LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Laurel County boy with autism is about to achieve the highest honor in scouting, his Eagle Scout badge.
He just completed his big project, educating his community on the challenges of escaping fire when you have autism.
Jonah Smith was non-verbal until about age 4. He has come a long way in developing life skills, thanks in part to the Boy Scouts. He is now just one 20-mile hike from earning his Eagle Scout badge. Smith also is completing his project, spreading awareness about the unique challenges of escaping fire when you have autism.
Over the past six months, he’s been working with the London City Fire Department, passing out smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and escape ladders. He also has been preparing children on all points of the spectrum for what they can expect if disaster strikes, while allowing firefighters to identify which homes have special-needs occupants.
“Kids with autism react different to smoke detectors, to water, to fire, to firemen, to the masks, to breathing, to all these sounds and stuff,” said Smith.
Smith said he is thankful for the support he has received and is hopeful that he has sparked a life-saving conversation.
“They should be thinking about their smoke detectors, thinking about teaching their kids and teaching about how firemen are the good guys. They’re not going to hurt you,” he said.
If you are the family of a special-needs child and think that you would benefit from any of these tools, contact Brandon Wagers at the London City Fire Department at 606-864-2922.