Hoover Alabama and Montgomery Alabama – November 28, 2017 – Interaction Advisory Group today announced a new training initiative, Project Companion that will instruct Maxwell Air Force Base Security Forces on how to identify and interact with individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. The multifaceted training began on October 23, 2017 at the base in Montgomery, Alabama and will continue through 2018. The initial in-person training was attended mainly by Air Force security forces and fire fighters but also included members of their medical group.
As the project continues it will utilize the unique and customized REACT (Recognition and Evaluation of Autism Contact Training) online training which was developed in partnership with University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions earlier this year. The training, designed by UAB professors, academic instructional design specialists, law enforcement experts and authorities in areas of special needs, is the first training of its kind at Maxwell AFB.
“Security forces are trained to respond to crisis situations with a certain protocol, but this protocol may not always be the best way to interact with individuals with autism,” said Damon Salter, the chief of training for 42nd Security Forces Squadron. “Because they are usually the first to respond on scene, it is critical they have a working knowledge of autism and the wide variety of exhibited behaviors.”
“As a mother to an awesome special needs kiddo myself, I have some understanding of the challenges our EFMP families face on a daily basis,” said Col. Melissa Stone, 42nd Air Base Wing vice commander. “We owe it to these families to understand their situations and learn how we can best offer support. Caring for families with special needs is not something unique to the military community, and we are hopeful that initiatives like Project Companion will also resonate to a broader audience. I’m excited to be a part of Maxwell’s efforts and look forward to our progress.”
“IAG wanted to focus on military families and what better way to do so than to train their security forces, fire fighters and other first responders on how to recognize and interact with their loved ones who may be living with special needs,” stated Dustin Chandler, co-founder and president of Interaction Advisory Group. “We want to foster an environment of safety for officers and members of the Air Force as well as raising the level of understanding of those families they are serving alongside.”
Due to the training and transfers of military personnel, generally families live on Maxwell AFB or in the surrounding areas for a short duration and then move on, so as an extension of the project, there are discussions to conduct community trainings both on-base and off-base to inform military families of the services that are offered in and around their community. IAG wants them to know of services that are available to them while they are living in Alabama and we see this program as being a companion to what families are already receiving through the military. Project Companion is funded by the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities through a grant awarded to IAG.
“We are very excited about IAG’s Project Companion. Individuals with disabilities and their families should feel safe and be treated fairly when interacting with first responders,” said Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities Executive Director, Myra Banks. “We appreciate the collaborative training approach IAG utilizes and have seen firsthand the impact it can have on first responders and the families they are serving. We look forward to continuing a great relationship with IAG.”
Maxwell Air Force Base, home to the headquarters of Air University, is known as the center for professional military education. The partnership with IAG recognizes not only the quality of education provided by REACT, but also the need for specialized knowledge in this area.
Interaction Advisory Group (IAG) believes true inclusion and acceptance for all individuals with special needs is integral for our future. IAG aims to improve the interactions between those with special needs and society at large through customized special needs awareness and training. IAG training is specialized for first responders, public service officials and private sector workers including teachers, and hospitality professionals. IAG was co-founded by noted special needs advocate Dustin Chandler and Kirchner Impact Foundation, one of the “returning” arms of traditional merchant bank Kirchner Group. www.interactionadvisorygroup.com
Dustin Chandler | President & Co-Founder | +1 205.447.7998 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities (ACDD) is a federally-funded program created through the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act in 1970. ACDD serves to promote and support independence, advocacy, productivity, and inclusion for Alabamians with developmental disabilities. ACDD is dedicated to the vision that all Alabamians, regardless of disability, will live, learn, work and play in inclusive communities. www.acdd.org .
Myra Jones-Banks | Executive Director | +1 334.242.3976 | Myra.Jones@mh.alabama.gov