Loudoun County Fire & Rescue creates new comfort bags for patients with autism

Virginia

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Hearing a siren is alarming enough, but for children with autism, the sound and emergency situation can be unbearable.

That’s why Jeremy Mader, a technician for the Loudoun County Firefighter’s Association, decided to create comfort kits for their autistic patients. Mader thought that the bags would be useful, due to Loudoun’s high special needs population.

“Each bag contains fidget toys, like spinners and balls and rubiks cubes,” said Mader.

Behavioral analyst Talisha Sachlis, President of LEAP Ahead, said that these toys help distract autistic children from the emergency situation.

“Any type of sensory toys actually facilitate their sensory that they’re feeling in moments of anxiety,” she said.

The kits come with toys to distract children during times of distress, containing items such as headphones to block out noise and EMS communication cards for non-verbal children to communicate.

There are currently a total of 50 comfort bags, and another 10 will be added to the growing collection. Mader said that they have already put one of the bags to use.

“We had a pediatric child that had a seizure and didn’t have their normal stem toy with them, which happened to be a slinky. So the medic grabbed the bag off the ambulance,” he said.

The bags are funded by the Loudoun Career Firefighter’s Association.

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