My friend Jamie wrote about how she was "Done" after dealing with yet another person calling 911 to report a lost child - her own child who was playing outside near her grandparents' home. I agree so much with her that it has gotten ridiculous how children are being wrapped in bubble wrap and expected to be supervised 100% of the time. My situation with Robbie is a lot different of course. We push and push to see how far he can be independent but so far, we can't let him roam, can't leave him alone at home, and I certainly don't have to worry about people calling 911 for these circumstances.
I worry more about what will happen if the police don't understand about autism.
I've read about cases where someone called 911, and the young man acted out, in a way that I can understand with autism, and the young man ended up tased, arrested, or dead.
What if Robbie were screaming and running around? What if someone didn't understand? What if...
I know that the odds are in our favor, that the actual risk is pretty low, but when you read about the case in Miami? The one where the young man with autism left his group home with a toy truck? And someone saw him waving the TOY TRUCK around and called 911 to report that there was man with a GUN.
Meanwhile, the caregiver (a middle aged black man) found the young man and was with him when the police showed up. You may have seen the footage. A black man laying on the ground on his back, hands in the air, yelling to the police that the young white Hispanic male had autism, that he was holding a TOY TRUCK, and then the young man is yelling SHUT UP at the black man. After the video ends, the police shot the black caregiver in the leg. He asked- why did you shoot me??? And the police officer said "I don't know."
After the incident, a day or so later, it came out that the police officer wasn't aiming at the black caregiver. No, he was aiming at the YOUNG MAN WITH AUTISM. Who was holding a toy truck. The police officer shot at the man with autism because he thought that he was going to hurt the caregiver. Even though they'd been told he had autism. That the caregiver was his CAREGIVER.
And this is where I caught my breath, and tried not to cry. Because I can see Robbie in that situation. Not that exact situation, but I've had him yelling things, and waving things around, and more. I don't understand shooting anyone in that situation. It was obviously a toy. I've seen the video and it doesn't make any sense. I'm just glad for both the young man with autism and the caregiver that the police officer was a poor shot that day. It could have ended up so much worse. It has been worse for others.
What am I left with after thinking about all this? Other than reminding myself that these are the exceptions, not the rule... that this is rare, that it won't happen... but what if? I'm left with trying to figure out how to teach Robbie how to act in these situations. Or at least acclimate him to police officers. I remember when he was little, I used to go to the firefighter events and show him how they looked in their turnout gear, so he wouldn't be so afraid of them, and run from the people who may be in the position of trying to help him someday. I guess that's the next step.
And to try not to read anymore.