By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(August 4, 2016) – Providing caring customer service goes beyond the places and people that you usually expect. You expect good customer service at a market, an entertainment venue, the library, and of course when you visit Sunny Isles Beach. Here, we extend that exceptional level of care to all facets in which we serve the public; Building and Code Enforcement, Community Center and Parks, Ocean Rescue and Police.
There are times that the public doesn’t re-spond as we expect. Some of those can simply be a misunderstanding. A misun-derstanding that can be avoided. Please read the message below from our Police Chief Fred Maas on a valuable program that is gaining national attention relative to this subject.
Autism and the Wallet Card Program
There is a wonderful program in existence that helps the general public as well as police officers, fire rescue personnel and city or county officials and workers that interact with people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (A.S.D.) There has been a wave of media and medical attention given to this condition that affects persons of all ages, from young toddlers to adults. What is important is that so much additional knowledge and understanding of autism and its characteristics and effects on people is readily available. No one has to be uninformed about autism. In fact, the more you understand, the more you will recognize and be able to effectively interact with those who have it.
One of the available programs to benefit the autistic, and those coming into contact with them, is the “Wallet Card Application.”
This simple yet highly effective program enables an autistic person of any age to produce an identification card when necessary to provide personal identification of the individual, the fact that they are a person with autism (A.S.D.) and an emergency contact number if necessary. Traits of autism can be mistaken for other conditions or causes for concern. Once an emergency response person or a member of the general public understands the person and the situation, it can be a “game changer” and reduce potential conflict. Anyone can learn more about A.S.D., the Wallet Card Program and Application and how to communicate effectively with autistic people by visiting the website provided by Disability Independence Group (DIG). That site address is: justdigit.org/wallet-cards/.
This program was first brought to my attention by the City Advisory Committee Chairperson Jeniffer Viscarra. I thank her for her contribution to the City and to her committee. City administrators can’t be everywhere all the time. The work of the committee expands our reach into the community and this program is an example of how the committee can work with the City for the betterment of our community.