A day in the life of a single mom raising a teenager and a child with autism. I believe that it's not what we receive, but what we give away that defines us. I want to give away all that I have learned and experienced in hopes that it will help families raising a child with autism or any disability. This is my candid journal where I open up my world and share my joys, knowledge, lessons, disappointments, challenges, frustrations, fears and successes - one day at a time.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Operation Introduction: A Conversation with a Cop
My first day of Operation Introduction. I introduced Nick to 2 new neighbors and that was very cool. The day ended with my spotting a police cruiser driving down our street (a rare sight on our dead end street) and my running out the door, waving it down asking if I could introduce them to my son. They stopped and were very polite, but their answers to my questions may surprise you.
Me: Hi. Is this the area you usually patrol?
Me: Great. I would like to introduce you to my special needs son just in case you run into him one day. Do you have a moment?
I went in the house, got Nick and brought him down to the police car
Me: Nick these are the police. Officer, what is your name?
Officer: Hi I'm John, what's your name?
Nick: Nick Jones
Officer: Nice to meet you.
Nick then just stands there, hugging me, not paying much attention.
Me: Thank you for stopping. It's very important to me that you know him, should you ever encounter him in the community. It's not likely that he would be on his own, but he could wander.
Me: Have you been fortunate enough to get any training as it relates to engaging our teen children in the community?
Officer: Nope, they have trained us in how to deal with mental illness in general.
Me: Thinking to myself, YIKES, I just looked at him uncertain of my next response, while Nick hugged me and twisted the end of his belt between his thumb and forefinger.
Officer: We do have a protocol. I understand that these kids may not be "listening" to us.
Me: I just want as many people in this area to be aware of him, so should he ever be out on his own he's safe, because he will never respond the way you need him to.
My son would not respond to this command!
Officer: We are trained to do what needs to be done to restrain the individual so they do not harm anyone or themselves.
Me: As a mom I'm concerned because, it's not that my son or another person may not be listening as much as it is that they don't comprehend the command or why it's critical at that moment. My son does not have any idea what would happen if you yelled "Put your hands up", so he wouldn't do it. He's more likely to do what he's doing now - I looked down to see Nick playing with his belt - and you might think he's reaching for a gun. That's what happened to a young man with autism who got shot downtown a few years ago.
Officer: Those situations you hear about young men being shot are because they have a gun, a knife, a sword or a toy that looks to be dangerous.
Officer: Hey Nick, nice to meet you.
Me: Thank you officer for listening and keeping an eye out for our kids.
This is how I interpreted our conversation:
The police in my area are not familiar with how people with Autism may respond in a given situation, and they are going to restrain, shoot or do whatever they deem necessary, because that's what they HAVE been trained to do.
The good news is, who's to say Officer John didn't hear or see something today that increased his awareness that may help someone's child.