911 Means Emergency - A Guide for People with ASD

A guide for people with autism spectrum disorder

Dial 911 on the telephone ONLY when there is an emergency. An emergency can happen anytime or anywhere. It is important to use 911 for real emergencies. Get to know some emergency responders in your community to learn more.

What is an emergency?

An emergency is when you need urgent help from the police, fire department, or rescue squad.

Some emergencies include…

  • A fire
  • Someone fell and got hurt
  • A burglar is in the house
  • A person is hurting someone else
  • Someone is unconscious
  • A person is choking
  • Someone is bleeding a lot
  • A person was severely burned
  • There is a car accident
  • A person ate something poisonous
  • A tree fell on a car
  • A person can’t breathe

If you are unsure, ask a responsible adult who is near you.

What should I say?

Speak slowly and tell the operator on the phone the following information:

My name is ________ and I have autism.
There is an emergency and I need help.
I am calling from ______. (Give the name of the location or the address where you are.)
The emergency is ______.

If you are hurt, tell the operator.

The operator will ask you questions about the emergency.

Listen to each question carefully, then answer. Speak clearly into the phone without yelling.

If the operator asks you to do something or go somewhere, listen to his or her instructions carefully. Then, follow the instructions.

If you have any questions or difficulties, tell them to the operator.

What should I do?

  • Stay calm
  • Explain what happened and how many people seem hurt.
  • Do not put down the phone unless the operator on the phone instructs you.
  • Never touch a person who is injured unless you are old by the operator.
  • Do not go to get your favorite belongings or a pet. There may be hidden dangers.
  • Never hide from a police officers, firefighter, or rescue worker. Always listen to their instructions.
  • Stay away from fire, sharp items, chemicals, and other dangerous things.
  • Do not hit, kick, or hurt another person. Stay away from someone who is hurting another person.
  • Let the emergency responder know if you take medication.

Practice safety rules with others so you are prepared for an emergency.

Who are 911 Emergency Responders?

Emergency responders are people who respond to emergency situations. They protect, help, and save people.

It is important to know who these people are during an emergency. They usually wear uniforms and ride in emergency vehicles.

Always listen to an emergency responder in an emergency. Do not run away or hurt them. He or she is there to protect you and others.

Ask a parent, librarian, teacher, police officer, fire fighters, emergency medical technician, or other adult to learn more about emergencies. More information is available at: www.autismsafety.org

Other Resources:

Autism Society Safe and Sound

Autism Speaks Safety Project

National Autism Association Autism and Safety


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Patient Stories

  • Everyone at CSH made me feel like my opinions and concerns were being heard, they explained every step and gave us lessons to apply at home.

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