Sunday, December 7, 2014

Your Child with Autism is at Risk of Being Fatally Shot

"I live in fear of the reality, that should my 16 year old son encounter the police, statistically he will end up brutalized or dead.  

I'm scared to death at how easily my son could be killed by police. As a young black man he's in danger because statistically the police are already looking for him, many don't value his life and are suspicious of his every move. I live in fear of the reality, that should my 16 year old son encounter the police, he will end up brutalized or dead. 

He is in danger because of how he looks and because his diagnosis makes it impossible for him to respond typically in social situations. When a stranger, even a police officer yells, "STOP" or "GET ON THE GROUND" or "PUT YOUR HANDS UP" Nick's not going to get it - which will be interpreted by police as defiance, which will be met with violence, potentially lethal violence. 

Nick could just be walking down the street, sitting in a car, looking at toys in the baby section, talking to himself in the park and all it would talk would be for a police officer to think he looks suspicious, or have gotten a call about a crime committed by a person described as "a black male in jeans a T-shirt" and my son could easily end up dead.  My son would not respond typically to their verbal commands, he might begin making sudden movements or even run (not from them, just because he runs) triggering a message in the the officers mind that he's a threat, and it's over. My innocent son is the victim of a violent crime committed by those we relied on to protect him. 

Our sons with ASD and the Police are dangerous mix, no matter what color or neighborhood you live in. Yes, our African American and Hispanic boys are statistically in the most danger, and they're not the only ones in danger all of our boys are. We have to move toward policy change in the country when it comes to policing, to protect our kids, our communities and the police who are on the job for the right reasons doing the right thing. 

The hope for our children is police reform and community awareness. Please let's all introduce our kids to as many people in our neighborhood as we can - a stranger may save their life. 

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