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Law Enforcement Needs Education On Autism

March 3, 2020

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I have talked about how autism complicates employment. Making it hard for us to get or keep a job. let’s talk about how autism makes it harder for us when it comes to cops. In fact, a person with autism can be mistaken for a person on drugs because someone can mistake our traits with being intoxicated.

While it’s important for a doctor, nurse EMT, etc to know someone has autism. It’s 25xs as important for cops to know, too.

It’s likely to happen to be stopped by a cop. Heck, I get nervous the minute I see a cop car because I know I am toast if I get stopped due to their lack of autism training/understanding.

I live in Illinois so I don’t know if the cops here know about autism. Chicago to be exact. I do not know if the CPD has a background or training in autism. Our traits like anxiety, stuttering, lack of understanding of verbal instructions, etc can be easily misread by the officer. I am in a group with autistic people and a person posted how they got detained due to their autism. Due to the cop misreading their autism traits.

They were not looking the cop in the eye ( in some cases autistic people DO NOT make eye contact.) Which made the cop suspicious.

The lack of eye contact will make the cop think the person is hiding something.

In some cases, the cop will shoot the aspie if they have a meltdown or shutdown due to mistaking it for the person being a danger.

Autistic people can be arrested due to misunderstandings.

This is serious. Someone’s life can be LOST as a result of no education/background/training about autism or anxiety disorder.

This was why I was on the fence driving. On certain days there are more cops cruising the area than others.

Being taken in for questioning can also be an issue. Autistic people take a while to process and understand your question. The cop can misread the silence after they ask you questions.

Sometimes interrogation can overwhelm the person. They may confess to what they’re being accused of to get the interrogation to stop.

This is one of the reasons why I don’t want to drive anymore. Could it be the end if a cop stops me?

This blogger wrote an article regarding this topic

It’s also important for EMTs to know about autism as well. Ambulances can be an overstimulating space for us. With the sirens, radio, and the EMT asking you questions. Of course, he/she needs to know what led to your sickness/injury.

However, 2 overstimulates and having to answer questions can be extremely overwhelming. This is kinda why I am in favor of someone being with me. This is why some of us feel better with a person with us.

Perhaps a course taught by an autistic so law enforcement, EMTs, etc can learn to recognize autistic traits nd what to do. Also, they should learn to recognize anxiety disorders, too.

If you want a safe space for autistic folks, cops learning about autism is one of the first steps. I feel is one of the things on the list. Also, NOT sending the cops to a mental health crisis instead dispatching trained therapists/mental health professionals,

So many autistic parents fear for these kids’ lives due to this. I have seen articles on my Facebook of an autistic kid who died when he was restrained. I reckon he had a meltdown and the teacher mistakes it for a tantrum. Meltdowns and tantrums are NOT the same. This is why training on how to recognize autistic traits and the proper protocol is important.

If you or someone you know who is autistic had any unpleasant encounters with the police you can submit your story!

We need as much awareness as possible.  I don’t wanna hear on Facebook, or Twitter about an autistic person who was shot/killed all because the police mistook their autism traits for being on drugs or being a danger.

I don’t want us to be afraid we will get arrested when those lights flash behind us.

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  • Reply Nicole Corrado March 16, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    I have written an article on how missing persons articles can be written without function labels. Email me if you have more questions.

    • Reply aaliyahholt March 16, 2020 at 9:22 pm

      If you’d like to submit a guest post you may. However, to avoid plagiarism issues, I ask that you submit a story that you have not publish elsewhere.

  • Reply Nicole Corrado March 16, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I have been in dialogue with local Toronto police regarding autism and missing persons. They unfortunately have taken the step of having a registry of autistic persons. I have been working with them, based on lived experience, about the issues of information privacy and age labelling.

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