Autism and Law Enforcement – Part 2
How can the two work together?
How can individuals with autism interact with law enforcement?
And, how can law enforcement recognize what autism looks like?
Do I worry about my own child?
Of course I do.
My child usually has a sweet disposition.
In the past, he has enjoyed interactions with police officers and fire department personnel.
For instance, fire trucks and police cars had been obsessions for him.
In his brief experiences, the people who drive the cool vehicles are good guys.
What do we tell our child?
They are good guys.
We tell them that all law enforcement personnel, as well all adults, should be treated with respect. That’s what we try to teach our child.
To treat everyone with respect.
What do I think about a possible law enforcement confrontation with my child?
I worry about when my child is older. How will he handle that type of situation?
And, will he be all alone?
We stress to our child
Treat that person with respect.
We also tell our child to not assume that a police officer understands that he has autism. That individual may not necessarily know what it means to have autism.
In other words, it may not be a bad idea to tell a police officer that you have autism.
“I have autism and that means I feel stress a bit differently than other individuals. It’s harder on my body when I’m in unfamiliar situations.”
Follow the instructions
Finally, we tell our child to do as he is instructed.
For example, a police officer may test him. “Did you rob that old lady?”
You didn’t, but the officer is testing you.He/she may have a reason to ask you that question. You may be suspicious to him/her. For whatever reason.
You body might react before you mind reminds you to stay calm. That can happen to all of us.
My son can react in a defensive manner. He can be up for a good argument.
Don’t do it with a police officer.
Be patient, especially when it comes to a law enforcement representative. Do what they are telling you to do.
For example, if they tell you to lie on the ground, do it.
Everything will be sorted out later.
Law enforcement personnel spend their days with a lot of stress. They have to deal with all types of different individuals.
They want to react in the right way, but they also want to be safe.
What about law enforcement?
As I mentioned in my previous blog, law enforcement needs to be able to recognize an individual with an ASD.
They need to be trained.
There are thousands upon thousands of kids growing up right now that have an ASD. They will be young adults very soon. Add that number to the number of adults currently with an ASD.
Law enforcement needs crucial information and training about ASDs and they need it now.
What is another reason this is important?
Because members of law enforcement have families, too.
Last year, I spent a four hour ride-along with a member of our local sheriff’s department. Turned out, we spent most of our time together talking about our sons, who are both on the autism spectrum!
Why do I suggest?
Talk to your child about how to approach a law enforcement representative—especially if he/she is a teenager or older and they are by themselves. Take them through some hypothetical steps, including a script that they can use to inform the law enforcement representative about ASD.
Assume that they do not know about ASD, but do not try to argue with them. Do as instructed, and sort it all out later, when calmer heads prevail.
In the end, hopefully, it will all work out okay.
Autism and Law Enforcement – Part 2
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