Autism and Interacting with the Police

Autism and Interacting With the Police

This happened:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/police-shoot-13-year-old-boy-autism-salt-lake-city-mother-called-for-help/

So, what’s a parent with a teenager on the autism spectrum supposed to think of what happened here?

What do I think?

First, I’m terrified.

Second, I’m angry.

Third, I’m confused.

Why am I terrified?

That could have been my child.

My child does get unregulated at times.

My husband and I team up to try to help him get regulated, but there have been a few times when he’s been very, very unregulated.

Did we ever call the police for assistance?

No. We were able to help him calm down and regulate.

We are not, however, a single parent like this mother.

For instance, the story states that his mother had not been able to work due to the pandemic and her son’s issues.

I feel she didn’t quite understand the situation. However, she needed help.

Here is what she said when she called the police:

“I said, he’s unarmed, he doesn’t have anything, he just gets mad and yells and screams,” Ms. ________ said. “He’s a kid, he’s trying to get attention, he doesn’t know how to regulate.”

She was desperate and thought the police would help her.

Okay, it happened that way.

Then, the police shot her son. Seven times.

Why am I angry?

Because they shot this woman’s son seven times.

She told them he was unarmed. And, they shot him.

The mother thought the police would help her, not shot her son.

I’m not angry at her. She made a decision I might not have made, but she was desperate.

She’s a single mother. She’s probably frustrated and exhausted. The report says she explained all of this to the police. Or, she thought she did. She thought she communicated properly to them.

“He’s unarmed.”

“He just gets made and he starts to yell and scream.”

She said, “He’s a kid,… he doesn’t know how to regulate.”

The report states she told them he has autism.

She said she asked for a crisis intervention team.

That’s a mother who begged for help.

There was no way to foresee what was about to happen to her son.

It is still unclear why the police shot this thirteen-year-old boy seven times.

Yet, I’m still angry.

And, I’m confused.

There is a police problem in this country.

Too many people end up dead or shot (this teenager did survive).

To a lay person, a police response does seem like “Shoot first, figure it out later.”

And, this case gets under my skin because I have a son with autism.

For instance, what if I had called the police in the past to help me with my son’s meltdown?”

Or, what if I thought I had communicated properly to the police, and yet… things escalated?

My child then gets hurt.

Or, killed.

Oh, how that guilt would never go away. I feel for this mother. She was desperate and things got out of control, very badly.  

What can we do?

I really feel the police need re-training, in regards to ANY mental health issue.

They get a lot of mental health-related calls. I get that.

However, they have to know how to deal with mental health issues, without anyone coming away dead.

My child is on the precipice on being an adult. He goes out into the world by himself. He’ll Razor or walk the dog or go up to Game Stop.

We believe he has a right to his independence.

But, in the back of our minds… It’s always the “What if…?”

In conclusion, it’s a problem in this country. A huge problem.

It needs a fix, before more people get killed or shot.

To fix this problem, I am not “against” the police in any way.

In addition, I feel like I’m pro-police. I just what the police to work with the community to fix these problems. Find a middle ground. There has to be a middle ground.

Above all, deaths have to be avoided.

For all of our kids.

 

More on Kimberly Kaplan:

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