TYNGSBOROUGH – Chief Richard Howe and the Tyngsborough Police Department are pleased to accept the donation of equipment that will assist first responders who encounter children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Carter Kits carry sensory items that will help calm children with ASD who may become upset by a commotion, bright lights or loud noises. The kits include fidget devices, a weighted blanket, sunglasses, earmuffs, a toy kit, and a communication card to help children who are non-verbal. These items will provide relief to an autistic person in crisis.
Carter Kits are named after Carter Severs, a 6-year-old from Frankenmuth, Michigan, who has ASD. Carter’s father, Justin Severs, is a detective with the Saginaw Township (MI) Police Department and wanted to help first responders interact with children like Carter when arriving at a scene.
The donation will ensure four cruisers will be equipped with Carter Kits on every shift.
Tyngsborough has residents with ASD and is home to the Valley Collaborative Elementary School, which educates children with a range of developmental disabilities and behavioral issues including ASD. Officer Bethany Bonczar, the School Resource Officer, looked for other ways the department could help those with ASD, and learned about Carter Kits.
“This is a great idea for us. We have a lot of kids with autism or sensory disorders,” Officer Bonczar said. “It’s another tool in our tool belt when we get called since these are mental health calls that require a different kind of response.”
The idea for Carter Kits began around Christmas 2019. Detective Severs, Saginaw Firefighter Brandon Hausbeck and Michigan realtor Andrew Keller came up with the plan to donate 10 kits locally.
“The donation spread like wildfire and we received requests from across the nation,” said Keller. “That’s when we decided to take the next step and pursue the mission to help first responders have an incredible tool for children with sensory issues.”
Carter Kits has donated more than 600 kits to first responders, including EMS, fire and police, in 23 states. The Department is seeking to obtain 10 more kits, to be placed in other vehicles and in schools.
“I want to thank Carter Kits for their generous donation, which will help us connect with those on the Autism spectrum with dignity and compassion,” Chief Howe said. “I commend Officer Bonczar for taking the initiative and working to bring this important program to Tyngsboro.”
The Tyngsborough Police Department observed Autism Awareness Month in April in several ways. Officers participated in the annual Autism Walk to celebrate and support those with autism. The Department participated in the annual “Light It Up Blue” event on World Autism Awareness Day. The Department also has made a special autism awareness patch available for free to any Tyngsborough resident. Patches may be picked up at the Police Department.
The Department also is working on the “Tyngsborough Home Safe Project,” which will ask residents to share information about loved ones with such challenges as ASD, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and assist the department in working toward better outcomes in a crisis.