Sunday, July 17, 2011

Special Manners 101 - The Authorities Need To Learn How To Deal With Differences

Special Manner #104: You can NOT deal with Special Needs people the same way you deal with the hood from the wrong side of the tracks or the mother who drowns her baby because she wants to party.

There are people trying to look out for special needs children that don't understand how they function. There are law enforcement people trying to deal with people they see as defiant adults when it is just a scared person who is unable to function as directed.

I'm going to often use Autism in articles because it's what I know, what I see a rise in, and the simple fact that typically function people are going to have to learn to deal with the growing number of non-typical people.

Children's Services has a job to do. They are supposed to protect children from abuse, neglect, and help parents deal with being parents. that's their job. You would think that they would be aware of the way children of all kinds work. You would hope that they would be able to take each case as individual as the people they are dealing with. Sadly, sometimes good families are torn apart and bad ones are left intact.  

An upper middle class Michigan family is destroyed when a school aid took a severely Autistic 14 year old's communication device words as a sexual abuse allegation. She should have known better. She gave words where there were none and called CPS. They should have known better but instead they split this family up, called the cops, and pressed charges. The cops locked Dad up for 80 days, Mom for 5, and their two Autistic children were sent to separate youth homes away from family for 106 days. The doctors knew there was nothing to it. The prosecutors came around after a while.  Still this family struggles to get back into the family life they had before. There is one simple fact about this child that if people had listened and paid attention, then all of this could have been kept simple and resolved easily. ~ She CAN NOT use the complex speech that the aid credited her with ~

In Canada a father is fighting for his 9 year old daughter. Autistic kids are wanderers, escape artists, and afraid of little when it comes to dangers. He lost sight of his child in the fenced in backyard. He ran up and down the block and then called for help from the police. He LOOKED, not partied, for ten minutes and then called for help. He did everything one of us would do. She was found safe in a neighbors pool.

He is a good single father doing his best by his kids. He learned about the medications, the therapies, all the things that she needed. One quick minute he looked away and she was gone. It could happen to any of us. The authorities took her away, put her into a mental ward, gave her medications that have horrible side effects and told this loving father that it may take up to a year or more before she can come home... if at all. 

If the authorities knew autism and it's traits they would have looked beyond that moment and at the whole picture. They would have offered help instead of an institution. These kids do better in the known then then when someone comes in and messes up the works. Parents need help, not ridicule from folks who really have no clue.

More and more the police are coming face to face with people who either don't understand the rules or don't get how to play the "games" other folks do. Most don't belong stuck in a solitary cell to go crazy or in general population to be taken advantage of. most of the situations that having them cross paths with law enforcement could be handled in a much different way then they are.

Neli wanted to go to the library but it was closed. He was sitting quietly on the grass waiting until it opened, but boredom and a crossing guard got him up and moving. The guard called about a suspicious black man with a gun so an officer stopped Neli. He searched Neli and found nothing. The teenager then started to walk away which caused the cop to start a scuffle that caused injuries to both of them. 

They then locked him up. He is still in jail even after many folks stepped up to explain to the judge and jury that his disability and uninformed police training made the situation far worse then it needed to be. He is losing the battle to stay part of our world. He is withdrawing and is less vocal. His lawyers offered the court a plan that was fully funded and that involved him being treated and helped. The court said no and extended his time in jail.

An 18 year old boy that was all of 118 pounds was shot and killed because his mother asked for help. She called the police because her son had gotten depressed, into drugs, and they were arguing about his desire to go back to the home he had known before. The cops came in and instead of talking to the boy or letting his mother, they shot him because he was holding a small pocket knife.

An 11 year old boy ran away from school. I'm not going to go into what I think of that (ok, so I might) but the staff there called police to help them catch this autistic boy. They tackled him, handcuffed him, and when he banged his head in the car, they used a seat belt to restrain him. They kept him there screaming for 50 minutes. I am not so much against the police on this one other then to point out that they just didn't understand that the handcuffs and seat belt made it worse. I do feel that the school should have known how to handle him, they should have had some system in line, and he never should have gotten off school grounds. Nor should he have been so sent over the edge that he felt the need to run away. School should be a "safe" place for these kids.

The Manner: Educate everyone who may be a caregiver to your child. Educate everyone who feels the need to knock on your door about your child. Educate the local fire and police about kids like yours. People think they know a lot more then they really do. And as your child becomes an adult child, it will get scarier. You will have to prepare your child as best as you can about what to do if they should cross the path of officials.

Here are a few places to help:
~There are products sold on the Buttons and More that speak when your child can't, that can educate people about autism, and even a button or two that will make you smile.

~A lot of our low verbal kids are being taught different ways to communicate including sign. This site offers a great bunch of products as well as training opportunities. I suggest giving the information (if not the products) to your local emergency responders. I even gave one of the cards to the doctor that treated my son in the ER. Signing Families even offers opportunities for other industries that may cross paths with those who communicate with sign and also for groups like the scouts. So there is something for everyone here.

~Here are a couple of sites offering free training for emergency responders, though anyone who may work with the special needs folks may want to take a look.
      Safe Response (through MSU)
      POAC (Has several pots on the stove)
      Indiana's Course

If you know of others PLEASE share them in the comments so we can all help each other!


1 comment:

  1. What terrible tragedies come when people misunderstand what's going on with these special needs people & their families! You've written a very important piece here that may save some lives & help spare a lot of people from heartbreak. Well done.


I welcome your thoughts if they are shared with respect and that you understand that we may not agree but we can still share and exchange ideas.