With that in mind, Gulf Bend Center in partnership with the Victoria Police Department held its first Build Your Own Crisis Kit event to give parents and those in need the resources to handle a crisis.
The center had 48 crisis kit backpacks prepared, and48 people signed up for the event to get the kits, said Ashley Trevino, Gulf Bend crisis intervention specialist.
Each of the bags included a folder with a list of resources in the Victoria area that parents can go to when dealing with a crisis. The bags also included first aid kits, hand sanitizer and a key-chain flashlight.
In addition, each kit came with noise-canceling headphones, and parents and their children could select various sensory items that best fit their individual needs, whether it be a fidget spinner, a teething toy on top of a pencil, or simply something to squeeze or observe.
The items in the kit give those with autism and IDD methods to cope in situations they struggle to calm down in — large crowds or other overstimulating environments, Trevino said.
“Having something there that can soothe them and have an easier time having those sensory tactile things that they like can really help to deescalate the situation,” she said.
The noise canceling headphones also help those with autism as it allows them to help remove themselves from an overstimulating environment when they can’t leave, she said.
For parents who are looking at developing their crisis kit, Trevino recommended being mindful of the kind of stimming their child engages in. If a child chews when they stim, sensory items that are safe to chew, such as specially designed pencil toppers, can be helpful, she said. If they engage in head banging as a stim, a pillow can be helpful.
“As long as there is something on hand, it can be really useful,” she said. “A lot of parents can talk to their doctor to see what else can be beneficial for them too because each person with autism is so different from the next.”
The Victoria Police Department was also on hand for parents to help register their children into the department’s jacket program, which was created in partnership with Gulf Bend Center.
The jacket program allows parents to register their children with the department, so that officers can be aware of what someone in the program is dealing with and provide information on how to help handle them when in crisis, said Lauren Meaux, Victoria Police Department spokesperson.
“The idea is to have that information prior to responding, so they can assess appropriately,” Meaux said. “One of the moms I was talking to earlier said that it is super beneficial because her son may be having a meltdown in the front yard and is worried her neighbors would call the police not knowing he is on the spectrum or has special needs.”
The jacket gives the responding officers the information they need to handle the situation appropriately and can be shared with other law enforcement agencies as needed, she said.
Victoria resident Betty Milberger, 47, came out to the event to register her son Christopher Milberger, 7, with the department as he can often wander away, she said.
If something were to happen, the information being available to the police department would help tremendously, Milberger said.
Trevino hopes to have more crisis kit building events in the future for the community, but it’s still to be determined whether there will be more. However, the fact they were able to have enough residents register for all the backpacks they prepared is a positive sign for the future, she said.
Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton has covered economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas and higher education.