Quick Guide Emergency Services for First Responders for Persons with Autism and Related Disorders

Quick Guide for Emergency Services First Responders

for Persons with Autism and Related Disorders



grey pause button

 When things are already escalated:

  1. Pause – quietly observe
  2. Stay calm – use few words, simple and supportive: ‘We can figure this out’.
  3. Wait – allow time for the person to settle down; don’t touch if not needed.
  4. Empathize – try to nearly but not fully match the person’s level of concern
  5. Offer food, water, rest, movement.

Before things have escalated or once things are settling down:

(adapted from Rady Childrens Hospital ‘Code Grey’)


  • Use simple language
  • Give one-step directions when possible
  • Allow time for processing questions or instructions
  • Use visual schedules, either pictures or written
  • Provide a ‘2 minute’ warning prior to changes or transitions
  • Provide ongoing calm reassurance: ‘It’s ok. We can figure this out.’
  • Incorporate preferred or familiar items or activities
  • Use visually interesting distractions during procedures (e.g. bubbles)
  • Allow opportunities for movement (walks, jumping, etc.)


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