As part of a service project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting, Eric Hense consulted with area first responders to develop and distribute sensory kits that assist them when responding to people with autism and other special needs.
Sheriff McDermott said that Eric’s project helps first responders by giving them the tools to tailor their services to the needs of individuals. “First responders have to provide care that meets the unique needs of every person,” said Sheriff McDermott. “Eric’s sensory kits make it easier for first responders to provide for autistic people and those with special needs, which makes everyone safer. These kits quite literally save lives.”
The kits include weighted pads to provide comfort, noise cancelling headphones, visual communication cards to assist non-verbal individuals, a dry-erase marker board set to aide communication, as well as fidget toys and children’s books to help keep individuals busy. They are packaged together in an easily identifiable “go bag” that can be kept in emergency vehicles.
Eric was inspired to develop the project by his older brother, Tommy, who has autism. “This project was inspired to help people like my brother in the surrounding communities,” said Eric. “I didn’t feel like I was doing a heroic act, but rather doing my duty as a Scout and helping people with autism like my brother. There are many people who supported me with this project, including my family, scouts and leaders, friends, and first responders, and I am grateful to them.”
After consulting with local first responders, Eric raised $6,000 to compile kits that he delivered to first responders in nearby communities. In total, he has made and delivered the sensory kits to fire and police departments in Cohasset, Scituate, Hingham, Hull, Hanover, and Norwell.