Conclusion & Review
In our scenarios, we have had to deal with a variety of possible responses by law enforcement. Some officers will simply shrug off such incidents as “kids being kids” and let it go; others may become overly aggressive or even try to cover up any wrongdoing. But some police departments are starting to take this issue more seriously, and their communities seem better for it.
In Scenario 1, instead of interpreting the civilian’s repetitive speech as mocking the officer, John had accurately identified echolalia (the compulsion to repeat words without meaning), a symptom of many behavioral disorders, including autism.
In Scenario 2, it would have been very easy to interpret the subject’s slurred speech and uncoordinated movement as intoxication or some illicit street drug. But Gerald was able to avoid escalation of the situation by revealing the subject’s brain injury.
In Scenario 3, Tom was able to identify the subject’s general caginess as a sign of being agitated, and was able to navigate his problems regulating his emotions and stimming behavior.
In all of these scenarios, the officer took proper precautions to make sure their safety came first, and then assessed the situation without aggravating the subject.
The officer established emotional boundaries, but allowed themselves to feel empathy toward the civilians they encountered on the street. This was especially important when dealing with someone who might be mentally ill or under stress from their job. They were able to maintain their cool while still taking care of business.
The officer did not allow their anger toward the subject to cloud their judgment. They maintained his professionalism and made sure that they wasn’t going too far.
We hope you enjoyed reading about these three cases, but please keep in mind that there are many more people out there who experience similar difficulties every single day. The best way to help them is by educating yourself on the subject and becoming familiar with your local resources for those living with autism spectrum disorders.
KEEN Education Foundation would like to thank the following individuals:
Ronald Caissie, Mediator and Ph.D in Education
Vinny from the NYPD
Constable Stephen Knack, RCMP Officer
Karen Simmons, Founder of Autism Today
Dennis Debbaudt, Expert on Autism and Law Enforcement
Stephen Sicoli, Author of “Autism in Lockdown”
Jonathan Sicoli, Author and autistic adult
and the following groups and organizations:
The Strathcona County RCMP
Autism Today Foundation
Learn more about special needs and law enforcement
Email our team!