Emergency responders receive 'Carter Kits' designed for children with autism
(12/12/19) - The Centers for Disease Control estimates one in every 59 kids is on the autism spectrum.
And while each child is unique there are some similarities when it comes to helping children find a sense of calm in chaotic situations.
With that in mind three friends designed Carter Kits.
They are named for five-year-old Carter Severs of Frankenmuth.
His father, one of the friends behind the kits, is a Saginaw Township police detective. He's seen first-hand the need for these specially designed bags. "There's been times, I look back, at calls we were on where we could have used something like this," he said.
As a father of a child with autism he understand their importance too.
Just a few years ago Carter could only say a couple of words, and the room full of people at the news conference at the Saginaw Fire Department to unveil Carter Kits might have been overwhelming.
But Carter was the star to the show and proudly showed off how to use many of the items in the kits.
Det. Severs and his wife Kelley credit Carter's progress to the Covenant Center for Autism.
During their journey they've found items that help comfort Carter. Many of those same items help other children with autism.
"Weighted blanket just helps to feel more secure, it's kind of like someone's giving him a hug," explained Kelley Severs.
The weighted blanket is just one item you'll find in the Carter Kits, designed by Det. Severs, and his friends, realtor Andrew Keller with JMW Real Estate, and Saginaw Fire Department Training-Safety Officer Brandon Hausbeck.
There's also noise-cancelling ear muffs when sirens are loud, sunglasses for flashing lights, fidget toys, and other sensory items.
"Saturday we were at the Spirit game and he had this little squishy ball here and he sat through the whole game playing with it," Det. Severs said.
"It keeps his attention and it keeps him calm because he's thinking about this one thing and it's soothing for him," Kelley Severs explained about the toys in the Carter Kits.
Carter Kits are now in the hands of Saginaw Township, Birch Run and Frankenmuth police departments, as well as Mobile Medical Response and the Saginaw Fire Department.
They've all met children with autism while responding to an emergency.
"We found it difficult to communication with them or difficult to relate to them," Hausbeck said. "So I think this is going to be a tool that's going to be able to help us bridge that gap."
And while the kits have Carter's name on them, everyone involved hopes this effort reaches many more of the one in 59 kids who have autism who also find themselves in an emergency situation.
"To know we might be able to help somebody else along the way because of the journey that we had, it's very humbling to know that we could have that impact on other children," Kelley Severs said.
Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to learn more about Carter Kits.