"Children with autism jeopardize themselves and others when the Mountain Brook Fire Department performed fire drills. The purpose of this research was to develop an educational program to assist children with autism respond to fire alarm activations. The action research method was used however, it was determined that the Mountain Brook Fire Department could not develop an educational program for children with autism. The research examined the causes of behavioral issues for children with autism and how they respond to external stimuli. How children with autism responded to fire alarms, and the behaviors they exhibited that endangered themselves or others was studied. The techniques used to educate children with autism as well as those used to educate them about fire drills was also part of the research. Parents of children with autism, special education teachers and fire marshals were surveyed for their knowledge and experiences relating to children with autism, their behaviors and responses to external stimuli as well as fire alarms. The most significant issue for children with autism is the loud noise. Children with autism typically suffer from hyperacusis, or sensitivity to sounds. The research points to desensitization as the treatment of choice, along with a variety of educational methodologies to help the children respond correctly to fire alarm activations. These methodologies require individualized planning and implementation by qualified special education teachers or other educational specialists. The Mountain Brook Fire Department will take a more proactive approach to fire drills in the schools, become more familiar with the needs of the students and assist the special education faculty with any fire drill issues that may arise. Further research needs to be conducted to determine the effectiveness of desensitizing in regards to fire alarms and fire drills."
United States Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/