New approach to seat belt safety now helping those living with autism in Norfolk County

A new seat belt cover could make all the difference in an emergency situation for those living with autism in Norfolk County.

Sheriff Jerry McDermott said he was inspired to make the cover which reads, “I have autism. I may resist help,” by a member of his own family who lives with the disorder. Mcdermott said he feels it is the best way to let first responders know how to best serve those individuals in a car crash.

“When somebody is not able to communicate or are nonverbal, depending on where they are on the autism spectrum when they are given direction in an emergency situation, they may react totally different than you and I would,” he explained.

McDermott partnered with Autism Speaks and the Flutie Foundation to release the special seatbelt covers to the public just a few months ago.

“We found it in the UK, they have a program that is a simple seatbelt covers, so we did a run of these after our stakeholders got to meet them. We had these ready for a little while,” he said.

The covers are free but so many families have expressed a need for one that the department has run out.

McDermott said the department’s stores will be replenished in a few weeks and that he hopes his idea will catch on nationwide.

“Since we’ve started here in Massachusetts we’ve had calls from Maryland, Texas, Florida, Connecticut so I’m hopeful that a simple program like this can save lives and be a good educational piece for everybody who is a first responder and it’s just good public safety,” he said.

Families can contact their local police station in Norfolk County to inquire.

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