Monday, August 8, 2016

Autism Lives Matter

autism lives matter
A fairly recent story included a therapist (who happened to be black) who was trying to bring a man with autism back his home being accidentally shot by police. With all of the racial tension in the United States, it was later revealed that the police officer was trying to shoot the autistic man and not the black man. I'm not sure how much that revelation helped things. You can read the details here.

This post is not meant to be anti-police. I am so thankful for our police officers. They put their lives on the line every day. I can't imagine what the officer who was involved in shooting must feel. He has to live with both the shooting of an innocent man and the attempt to shoot a man with autism. This officer, like all officers, is put in positions where he has to make serious decisions with very little information. In this case, the report was that there was a man with a gun. He had to take that report seriously.

So what am I trying to say?

People with autism offer a special challenge to police officers. Police have certain steps that they use to de-escalate a situation. If the suspect responds correctly, most of the time everything works out fine. But there are no guarantees that a person with autism will follow the commands given by the officer. What are the police to do?

I have no easy answers. I am thankful to hear that there is an increase in training about autism within many police departments. Education will be a big help. It is also crucial that officers be given the correct information, including the person's ability to communicate.

We need to pray for our police officers as they navigate a very confusing world and attempt to keep us all safe.

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