Today’s Champions was created in honor of the friendship between Bryan Clauson and Ben William Hodgin (BW), the son of Beth and Ben Hodgin. Bryan was a renowned race car driver and best friends with BW. Their friendship was pure, genuine, and unique, and Bryan treated BW like a peer, a buddy, and a true friend. They became friends through a love of sports in December of 2011 and it continued to blossom until Bryan passed away in a tragic racing accident on August 7, 2016. Since that day, Today’s Champions has been committed to honoring Bryan by working to spread awareness about autism in the racing community and provide specific autism training and resources to first responders, security personnel, teachers, and other influential members in the community.
With the support of Today’s Champions, ASI is able to provide sensory-friendly backpacks to individuals on the spectrum and provide first responder training across the state. These backpacks include helpful objects that aid in relaxation and stress relief for individuals with autism.
Along with Today’s Champions, ASI works diligently to provide information to first responders and all persons that may respond to an emergency. ASI’s First Responder Training includes basic information about Autism, as well as strategies for assisting autistic individuals during emergent situations. During high stress situations, first responders and individuals with autism are faced with very difficult circumstances. The focus of the First Responder Training is to help alleviate unknown factors when assisting individuals with autism.
Additionally, Today’s Champions and ASI purchased picture communication boards to be placed in the vehicles of all first responders and law enforcement in Indiana. To date, over 10,000 have been given out. These boards give police, fire fighters, and EMS providers a way to communicate with a person who may be nonverbal, have limited English skills, have autism or other disabilities or mental health issues. All first responders also received a training video on how to utilize the communication board.
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Autism Society of Indiana is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charity