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Autism and the police (New York Times)

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:45 pm
by B.L. Pike
Hello, all,
This recent article in the New York Times highlights an issue that has concerned us for some time: how might our son handle an encounter with the police, and how might they handle him?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opin ... nding.html

Our son with autism is a young adult who has sometimes eloped and been on the run, even overnight. We are also working on giving him appropriate independence to walk to nearby stores alone or to do neighborhood clean-up (which he loves!) But clearly not everyone is prepared to understand his "strange" movements or his hesitation when answering questions, much less his inability to read the necessary social cues to avoid escalating a poentially dangerous situation.

We have begun teaching him that if a police officer ever encounters him, he should drop whatever is in his hands (NOT try to put it in his pocket) and raise his hands, palms facing the officer. We're approaching it as lightly as we can, as a simple social situation response rather than a potential threat to his safety. Perhaps for those of you with young kids this is a non-issue, but the fact is they all grow up, and they need preparation for all the kinds of social encounters they may face. This is just another one, but one with a serious potential. So we wondered if any of you have given this any thought, and if you have ideas to share.
Thanks!
B.L.