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Kerima Cevik, Mother & Disabilities Advocate

“My son is on the autism spectrum, and my priority is to make sure he is safe. I met Spencer Dove when I contacted Delegates on the health committee to ask that our first responders be better trained to identify and address situations involving those on the autism spectrum. Spencer helped us make sure that first responders got the proper training to respond to the needs of people like my son. I am proud to support him and call him my friend.”

-Kerima Cevik, Mother & Disabilities Advocate

Background: In the fall of 2011, Kerima Cevik reached out to Delegates Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Kirill Reznik, members of the House Health & Government Operations Committee, asking for legislation that would have law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel trained to recognize and handle situations involving those on the autism spectrum. Her request came after too many stories of tragedies happening around the country to both citizens and public safety personnel being harmed and/or killed in these kinds of situations due to inadequate training. The Delegates and Spencer Dove (Chief of Staff to Delegate Peña-Melnyk at the time) worked with our men and women in uniform to negotiate having their training curriculum adopt nationally-recognized autism training standards for emergency personnel.

In the 2012 Legislative Session, House Bill  361 (click here) was introduced by Delegates Peña-Melnyk and Reznik with bipartisan support. However, the Delegates and Spencer continued to work with police, fire, and medical stakeholders. House Bill 361 was later withdrawn after the appropriate training academies were able to adopt these curriculum changes administratively, thus negating the need for a legislative fix.

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