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Autism awareness training helps first responders in handling missing person cases

A Jacksonville based company has trained 180 agencies across the country in how to respond to missing person cases involving people with autism.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — First Coast News is still working to find out more details about how a missing 14-year-old Jacksonville boy with autism was found Monday night.

There are first responders along the First Coast who are trained in handling certain situations involving missing children with autism.

It was a neighborhood-wide effort to find Elijah Lee, who was reported missing earlier in the evening.  After a few hours, he was found safe and according to Myron Pincomb, missing persons cases generally create some challenges.

“Getting to know the child because everybody’s a little different so learning what their sensory requirements are,” Pincomb explained.

Pincomb is the CEO of the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, a company that trains and certifies law enforcement officers on how to interact with people on the autism spectrum.

Search techniques includes talking with parents to get to know their child’s likes and dislikes and how to approach them if they are non-verbal.  

“There’s quite a few different communication cues and different strategies that we work with the officers so they are more successful,” Pincomb explained.

He’s trained 180 agencies across the country in autism awareness.

When FCN spoke with him, he was at the Beaches Resorts in Turks and Caicos re-training an advanced course with staff about guests with autism. Beaches was the first resort company in the world to receive Autism Certification in 2017 and in 2019.

It’s a mission that’s gone international as Pincomb hopes families avoid the most dire outcome.

"If the data that we’ve seen, it’s about 50% of the cases that something negative happens. Either serious injury or death,” Pincomb said.

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