March 12, 2010 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has produced an interactive storybook, “I Know My Fire Safety Plan,” for teachers and parents of children with autism to work with the child on what to do if a smoke alarm sounds. The story is designed for high functioning children with autism ages 6 to 9. It can also be helpful to children with other developmental disabilities.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 110 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder. It is important that we reach children on the autism spectrum and encourage parents and caregivers to use this new NFPA educational tool to help children understand what they should do to escape safely when they hear the smoke alarm sound,” said Lisa Braxton, NFPA public education division project manager.
“I Know My Fire Safety Plan” breaks down important points into easy-to-follow steps and uses the social story format, a commonly used communication tool for children with autism. It acknowledges the apprehension children with autism may feel when a smoke alarm sounds or loud fire trucks with firefighters in turnout gear enter the neighborhood. Parents are advised to practice their fire safety plan with their children, and then read the story with them.
Participants are encouraged to use the interactive story to its full capacity by typing in their name, age, physical features, and the location of their outdoor meeting place. Children can also take part in the story by clicking on the corner of each page to turn it and they may start and stop at will.
The interactive story has been reviewed, at all stages of development, by the NFPA public education division’s Parents and Teachers of Children with Disabilities Advisory Group. It has also been reviewed by a psychologist from a school that serves children and adults with autism and by a respected author of manuals on crafting social stories.
NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.