By Joel Hillan

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Five-year-old Dylan knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.

“A paleontologist,” said Dylan.

And boy does he know his dinosaurs.

“Well, I like Carcharodontosaurus, Ganeosaurus and Pterodaustro.”

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It was on a trip to dinosaur museum that Dylan had his first encounter with firefighters.

“Last summer, I had a medical emergency. We were out at a dinosaur museum and West Metro responded and they were amazing with Dylan and amazing with me,” said Dylan’s mother Jenn Ray.

Saturday, Dylan and other kids on the autism spectrum were able to take a special tour of the fire station.

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“It is still just a sigh of relief when you kind of give the knowing nod to parents who understand that he’s just having a rough time and they’re not going to judge me — whether they think I’m just giving him his way or being a neglectful parent — it’s just, he’s having a rough time right now and I’m doing the best I can to get him back to being in a good place,” said Ray.

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The idea was conceived and executed by West Metro Fire District Lieutenant Paramedic Jasen McConaghy who also has a son the spectrum.

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“I wanted parents to be able to come here to bring their children and have a good time because all kids love fire trucks and I wanted the parents to have the ability to say, ‘if my child doesn’t have a great day or is throwing a fit or is screaming that there is no judgement here,’ that they can stay for as long as they want and have as much fun as they want,” said McConaghy.

A morning of fun, learning and understanding.

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“Hopefully, some day, we can help make this easier for everybody. But I just want the community to know that West Metro Fire District is here to support them in whatever way that we can,” said McConaghy.

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April is Autism Awareness Month.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.


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