Autism and Interacting with the Police
This happened recently:
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 occasionally get very unregulated.
My husband and I can 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 (eventually) help him calm down and regulate.
We are not, however, a single parent like this mother.
According this source and others, this mother had not been able to work due to the pandemic and her son’s issues.
I feel she didn’t get it.
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 he starts yelling and screaming,” 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.
They shot her son instead. 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.
She thought the police would help her, not shot her son.
I’m not angry at her. Again, she’s a single mother. She’s probably frustrated and exhausted. She explained to the police. Or, she thought she did. She thought she communicated properly to them.
“He just gets made and he starts yelling and screaming.”
“He’s a kid,… he doesn’t know how to regulate.”
She said she told them he has autism.
She said she asked for a crisis intervention team.
That’s a mother trying, begging for help.
She didn’t get it.
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, it appears like “Shoot first, figure it out later.”
And, this case definitely gets under my skin because I have a son with autism.
What if I had called the police in the past to help me with my son’s meltdowm?”
What if I thought I had communicated properly to the police, and yet… things escalated.
And, my child got hurt.
Oh, how that guilt would never go away. I feel deeply for this mother.
What can we do?
I really feel the police need re-training, especially in regards to ANY mental health issue.
They get a lot of mental health-related calls. I get that.
But, they have to know how to deal with them, without any coming away dead.
My child is on the precipice on being an adult. He frequently goes out into the world by himself. He’ll Razor or walk the dog or go up to Game Stop.
We believe in allowing him 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 fixing. Before more people get killed or shot.
Fixing a problem, btw, doesn’t have to mean “against.” 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.
To avoid unnecessary deaths.
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