Institute on Disabilities Releases New Video - "Autism and First Responders: Seeing Beyond the Smoke"

July 2014

PHOTO: Video still of firefighters preparing to enter home
Fire fighters prepare to enter home in the video "Autism and First Responders: Seeing Beyond the Smoke."

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, in collaboration with Willow Grove Fire Company, Upper Moreland Police Department and Horsham Fire Company, has produced and just released the video, Autism and First Responders: Seeing Beyond the Smoke to help increase awareness of the unique issues presented by people with autism, and to inform fire fighters, police officers and other first responders on how to recognize signs of children and young adults with autism. Parents, family members, educators and others who support people with autism will also find valuable information in the video.

The 20-minute video features a house fire scenario with suggestions on how to recognize and manage challenges that people with autism may present, along with interviews with Chief Brian Focht, fire fighters Tom Winterberg, Marc Medoru, family members and children with autism.

Funded by PA Developmental Disabilities Council the video is available on the Institute's You Tube channel:

Beverly Franz, PhD, the video's producer and project director of the Institute's criminal justice initiative, says that the video is meant to enhance the already honed skills of the first responder community.

"We present information and resources for first responders that might help define behaviors that they encounter and offer some methods to improve success when an event involves a person with autism."

For more information about the video or the criminal justice initiative at the Institute, contact: Dr. Beverly Frantz; email:

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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service