In a crisis? These services can help.

I spoke with a friend last week who had a son in crisis. If you don’t know what crisis for kids with disabilities looks like, be thankful. Aggressive behavior, hitting, and destruction of property are all too common in the disability world. Since she had her hands full, I did some research for her and found these resources.

First off, I tried REACH. REACH is a statewide program specifically for adults with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities. That means autism, downs syndrome, and a host of other challenges. I went to their website (http://www.dbhds.virginia.gov/individuals-and-families/developmental-disabilities/crisis-services) and found my area. According to the website, I’m in area 1. However, after talking to a very helpful woman, I discovered that my local community service board, RACSB, has their own crisis line and services. She did also tell me that REACH can handle children with ID/DD as well, depending on your area. If your child or adult has a tendency toward aggressive behavior, I would keep this site bookmarked and make sure you know your area. They can be called in lieu of 911 for guidance.

Next I called the RACSB childrens crisis line at 540-373-6876. Again, a helpful woman was happy to answer my questions. They do have 24 hour service, although after hours it is an answering service that will contact whomever is on call. They do give priority and have personnel trained for kids with ID and DD issues like autism, downs syndrome, etc.

The most interesting question she answered was about calling 911. Her advice was to call 911, specifically because here in Spotsylvania we have a sheriffs department who is familiar with and has been trained in first response to this sort of crisis. I don’t know the readiness of other sheriff or police departments, so I would advise you reach out to them personally and find that out. However, if you are in danger and your only option is 911, then you should call them. The process here is not to arrest and detain, but to de-escalate and provide secure transport to the nearest hospital for admission and medical evaluation.

This is one of the scariest parts of the disability experience, so it pays us to be vigilant. Feel free to message me if you need guidance in your area. I’m not an expert in all areas of the country, but I may be able to point you in the right direction if you’re lost. I hope this information helps.

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