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Monday, December 7, 2015

Autism and Law Enforcement: Stuff we need to do.

The past weekend I was honored  to be on a panel with The Blogfather aka "Autism Daddy" for the Autism and Law Enforcement Round Table that my good pal "Bacon and Juice Boxes: Our Life with Autism" organized.   Not only is Mr. Bacon a police officer but he is also an autism dad.  He saw a real need to have our autism community sit down and have a conversation with his fellow police officers.  I'm so glad he did and by the time it was over it was clear to everyone there that this won't be a "one and done."  This is the start of an ongoing relationship.  Let me break down some of the highlights that really struck me.

1) HELP THEM TO HELP US.  The information we provide is critical especially at a time of crisis. So if you are calling 911 for anything and your autistic child is there with you, let that police dispatcher know.  Do you have a child that has auditory sensitivity? Maybe sirens would scare the living daylights out of them.  Tell them that on the phone.  They will get that information to the officer responding to your call.  I learned they walk into these situations not knowing much other than what was reported in on a call.  So speak up on it.  It could really help both sides.  Believe me, they WANT to know how to help you.

2) Contact your local police department.  Let them know your child has autism and/or any other health conditions. This information will be stored in their data base. They referred to it as "Being flagged" which is police speak for "Stuff we need to know that helps us assist you."   Again, it's to help them to help you.  Bring your child with you to the station and meet the local cops. Let's face it, the uniform can be a tad scary/intimidating for some kids.  Help smooth that out by meeting the people behind the badge.  Bring cookies cause who doesn't love a snack? (OK, that part is optional but I bet it wouldn't hurt!)

3) "What happens if I'm in an accident and somehow incapacitated and cannot tell a first responder "My child who is with me has autism."  Now if that's not every autism parent worst nightmare, I don't know what else could be worse.  However, this stuff can happen and it's better to be prepared for it.   One of the cops said immediately the first thing he is going to do is look in your glove compartment for your registration and then your cell phone for contact info.  So why not add to it a small index card with it that says your child's name, diagnosis, medications, emergency contact person and add "May not respond to questions or requests." or "Non verbal" or "May wander" etc.  Pretty much the stuff you WOULD say if you could say it that would help them.  Just stick it with your car registration and in the car of any one that drives your kid on the regular.

Same thing with your cell phone.  I only know for the iPhone but in your contacts that first listing that says "My card" and you click on that and it's all your information, your numbers, email addresses, spouse name, etc.  There's a big red star that says "Show Medical ID".  You can not only fill that out for medical info on yourself but include with it "My child has autism." yadda, yadda, yadda, all the stuff I just mentioned in the previous paragraph.  BOOM!  Done in 30 seconds.   Each of these things takes little effort to do on our part and can help them to help us so much.  Hopefully you never need to use either but won't you feel a bit better knowing it's there?

Throughout this discussion one thing was really clear to me.  They want to know more. As comments and questions came from the audience and other panel members, smart phones were coming out.  These guys were texting contacts they had all over to get the information for the answers.  Business cards and emails were being exchanged all over.  I even got to meet the chief of my town who wants to do more outreach programs for the special needs/autism community.  That's when I peeped up "Yoohoo Neighbor! Right here. Oh you betcha bottom dollar I would be." In fact, in other towns, these programs are going on.  Check with your local station to see about that.

My Fry Friends, we are used to being the squeaky wheel that gets that grease.  This is no different. If you feel like your relationship with your local police isn't good, no time like the present to start fixing it.  I hear time and again how scared a lot of autism parents are of the police but more often than not it's not based on real life experience that happened to them.  I get it. Hell, I have it too sometimes.  My Kiddo is only getting bigger.  It's one thing to be a small child.   A grown man that's not making eye contact or responding to someones questions, well that shit can hit the fan quick can't it?  What am I basing this on?  Probably the stories I read online.  You know how social media loves it some viral horrible news.  The good stuff doesn't get the same kind of attention at all.  That's a real shame.

It's on us too to have a good relationship with law enforcement.  I know that there are some reading this now that are probably chomping at the bit to write their tale of horror with their local police department.  Guess what?  The police also know some police suck.  Just like we have to acknowledge that not all autism parents are good parents.  I'm not a saint.  Are you?  Didn't think so.

Bacon and Juice Boxes, me, and Autism Daddy.  I wonder if that Hummer is available for rent to drive to IEPs. Wouldn't it be awesome to roll up in that like a "G" to the school? 


The men and women I met this weekend want to help us but they need help from us to do that.  I have a feeling this won't be the only roundtable that happens and I'm looking forward to where this will go next.



5 comments:

  1. http://madewonderfullycom.ipage.com/?p=348

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  2. That is a write up about a friend of mine getting a bill started in Washington state. Perhaps it has some ideas you can implement in your area?

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  3. http://www.goldendalesentinel.com/story/2015/07/01/news/mccabe-introduces-travis-alert-bill/6097.html
    Here's another with the representative who is publishing it

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  4. Thank you for your efforts on educating and advocating for our kids. Fantastic suggestions. About four months ago I had to call 911 for assistance with a meltdown and it ended up being traumatic for all of us. One officer was amazing, the other horrible. I have been putting off going into the station to address the issue but I know that I need to and this post just confirms it for me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for your efforts on educating and advocating for our kids. Fantastic suggestions. About four months ago I had to call 911 for assistance with a meltdown and it ended up being traumatic for all of us. One officer was amazing, the other horrible. I have been putting off going into the station to address the issue but I know that I need to and this post just confirms it for me.

    ReplyDelete