Back in 2015, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro created the thinkDifferently initiative as a call of action to residents, civic groups and organizations, businesses and government in Dutchess County to "foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals living with special needs."

Molinaro is a father to a daughter on the Autism spectrum.

This Friday, April 20, with help from the thinkDIFFERENTLY program, Dutchess County will host Autism Awareness Training for first responders.

First responders will be trained how to identify the characteristics and behavior of a person with ASD, how to communicate effectively with a person with ASD, respond to an emergency involving a person with ASD and utilizing special tactics, rescue techniques and patient care options.

In a press release Molinaro stated, "These brave first responders will learn the best ways to approach, communicate with and safely rescue an individual on the autism spectrum – skills that can save a life in an emergency. I encourage first responders to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ and attend this vital training session, as the safety of every resident of every ability is our shared responsibility."

Experts Bill Cannata and Jimmy Donohue will be on hand to discuss their experience working in law enforcement and their relationship with the ASD community.

Cannata is the Coordinator of the Autism and Law Enforcement Education Center, is a captain in the Westwood, Massachusetts. While Donohue is a lieutenant with the Pensacola Florida Police Department who created the “Take Me Home” Program. The "Take Me Home" program allows "those who are unable to speak or properly identify themselves to police officers to register with a photo, physical description and contact information so first responders can provide special assistance that may be required when contact with a person with autism occurs."

Autism Awareness First Responder Training will run from 9am until 2pm at the Department of Emergency Response on 392 Creek Road in Poughkeepsie this Friday.

Pre-registration is required online or by phone at (845) 486-2080.

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