Flagler County firefighter creates autism sensory boxes

Brookie’s Sensory Boxes designed to help children with autism spectrum disorder cope with stress of emergency situations

A Flagler firefighter who has a daughter with autism found away to help similar children in emergencies.

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A Flagler County firefighter is making sure his team is prepared in the case they run into a child with autism.

Lt. Jon Moscowitz figured out a way to try to help the children stay calm during an emergency and it’s all based on a personal experience.

Emergencies can be stressful for anyone.

“Then, when you add in a sensory processing disorder, they already don’t see and experience things in the same way we do,” Moscowitz said.

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He knows personally how those situations can affect children with autism.

“My daughter was diagnosed with autism pretty early on in her life, about a year or so old,” he said.

His daughter, Brooklyn, is now 4 years old and in learning how to communicate with her, Moscowitz also saw a gap at work.

Lt. Jon Moscowitz and his daughter Brooklyn (Lt. Jon Moscowitz)

“Things that we’ve learned and that we’ve been taught by those therapists, I was able to see a blind spot within our service, not just where I work but emergency medical services as a whole,” he said.

So, he created Brookie’s Sensory Boxes to help make a stressful environment a bit calmer. Each box is filled with a tactile book, fidget and sensory toys, headphones, sunglasses, a whiteboard to communicate and even a liquid timer.

“We could use a liquid timer and explain to them when all the liquid gets from the top to the bottom, we’ll move onto the next thing if you can just focus for that amount of time. It gives them something tangible, something they’ll understand,” he said.

The boxes are in all of Flagler County’s rescue vehicles now and Moscowitz has received donations to create dozens more for surrounding agencies and a few out of state.

“To just give them something to focus on to change their environment so they’re not necessarily in that moment of panic as much,” he said.

He also developed training for EMS employees to better prepare them when heading into a situation where someone has autism.

You can find more information about the boxes on the organization’s Facebook page.

About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.