Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Question: Should Cops Get Training to Deal with Autism?

Question: Should Cops Get Training to Deal with Autism?

 This was the question posted on that someone shared on Facebook today that got my attention. I feel that this is a question that comes at the reality of the situation at hand sort of, well... sideways. In my opinion the police should definitely be trained to deal with all relevant situation they may face.

The police are charged with the task of what we used to call "keeping the peace". In some areas, the words "To Serve and Protect" may still be emblazoned on the doors of the police cars. But the police are in a position to deal with criminals, thugs, gangs and drug wars. It is a very dangerous job. Once might argue that a person would have to be a very particular kind of person to be attracted to this line of work. There are likely some who see a world that needs help, and they reach for this service like a calling. But for the most part the most likely candidate who would want this sort of job long term... are the bullies.

I have been around a few cops in my time; dated a few, my step father was a well respected Staff Sargent in the Air Force Military Police. I have come into contact with police in other ways and I have only known one who wasn't a bully, my step-father. That being said; Yes, the police should be trained in all relevant scenarios. However I think the question we are asking is wrong.

Why? That's the question to ask. Why are we calling the police to handle a medical/psychological situation? Personally I understand Autism to be a result of poisoning. The disorder is still classified as a psychological disorder.  Mental health professionals are trained in subduing patients who are out of control. Your child in the throes of a melt-down is having a psychological event. Some evidence has suggested that melt-downs are akin to seizures. If you can't help your child to calm-down, then give him the space he needs to calm down on his own. Remove things from his environment that he can use to harm himself or others. Talk to him during a calm time about strategies he can use, my son has a room where he can go and shut the door.

It's frustrating sometimes that we have to wait it out. It's disruptive to schedules, and that's why it's a disability.

Unlike tantrums, meltdowns can leave even experienced moms & dads at their wit's end, unsure of what to do. When you think of a tantrum, the classic image of a youngster lying on the floor with kicking feet, swinging arms, and a lot of screaming is probably what comes to mind. This is not even close to a meltdown. A meltdown is best defined by saying it is a total loss of behavioral control. It is loud, risky at times, frustrating, and exhausting.

Here is the poignant expression of a 23 year-old girl who asked the question "How Do You Feel After Having a Meltdown?" on

 I usually don't remember mine like. I remember what happened before and after but its almost like having a seizure. I forget what I did or sometimes might have sound during the meltdown period and then sometimes I feel confused. Other times I feel weak and as if my body just drained itself. I just want to sit down and lay their wallowing in the pain still left after the meltdown occured too. Sometimes after, it becomes a depressive state where I feel like nothing can satisfy me or please me and I sit there panicking because not only am I depressed but often times I still feel upset and my mind is having a meltdown after my nervous system kicked in and reacted with the outburst form of it.


On February 2nd, 2012 the Chicago news reports that Stephen Watts, a 15 year old boy in Calumet City Illinois was shot to death by police. His crime? Melt-down. The report stated that the police had been called 10 times since 2010 and that all those times they had tazed the boy, but that this time while other officers on the scene did have tazers, the lead officer did not. So when the young boy lunged with a butter knife and scratched the lead officers arm, he felt compelled to draw his weapon and shot him to death. BUT the officer had received training in Autism, they had even responded to this particular boy in the past.

It's not my intention to blame the parents. They believed that they were doing what they had to do when they called the police. In fact one report states that the boy's father was following instructions from therapists to allow the "authorities" to handle the boy's melt-downs.

 Somehow a lot of people have come to the same conclusion.  Maybe Stephen woke up with a headache, and that's why he didn't want to go to school. Maybe he was feeling depressed or maybe he was being bullied- maybe he was just  tired. All these things can cause a meltdown. Especially when pushed. Why did Stephen have to die for that?

If your child's Doctor or therapist has told you to call the police to deal with a melt-down- get a new Doctor or therapist!

  Calumet City, Ill. - Calumet City police shot and killed Stephon Watts, a 15-year-old autistic boy, in his home Wednesday.

  Largo, Florida - Police called out to a domestic disturbance Thursday say they were forced to shoot and kill an 18-year-old man armed with a knife shortly after entering the apartment he shared with his mother.

27-year-old Steven Eugene Washington, was killed on March 21, 2010 when he failed to follow instructions from officers and allegedly reached into his waistband.

  NORTH MIAMI BEACH – A man whose family said he was autistic was killed by police in North Miami Beach after pointing a real-looking toy gun at an officer, police said Thursday.

 Let's just think about the common practice of tazing- Did you know that the UN has declared the tazer to be a "torture device" ? Read about that here while I go and calm down.

 PLEASE PLEASE Never NEVER call the POLICE on a loved one!! Never call a cop on your CHILD!


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