INDIANAPOLIS — Many people with autism have some type of sensory process disorder, making it difficult for them to interact when overloaded in stressful situations. Some of those stressful situations like a fire or medical emergency may require the aid of a fire department.
The non-profit Ben’s Blue Bags is hoping to help firefighters, like those with Pike Township Fire Department, who work with those with autism by giving them something new to focus on.
Ben’s Blue Bags was started two years ago by firefighter Matt Kodicek. He wanted to provide firefighters with training and equipment to calm tense situations.
Now over 1,000 firefighters know how to use sensory bags that are filled with items for a person to focus on like fidget spinners, Rubik’s cubes, and white boards.
“A lot of times they have sensor overstimulation, and these objects help them focus on a single object and allow us to examine them and give patient care in a better way,” said Mike Goodrich, the division chief of EMS for the Pike Township Fire Department.
Ben’s Blue Bags creator Matt Kodicek came up with the idea while working as a paramedic in Crown Point.
“There’s more and more kids out there and there’s more and more adults that are on the spectrum, and we need to understand how they think and how to better take care of them when there is an emergency situation,” said Kodicek.
Pike Township is the first fire department in central Indiana to take on the training.