Parents of children with autism have many concerns that other mothers and fathers don’t have to contend with.
Sure, there’s the possibility of bullying no matter what your kid’s abilities, but children with autism often face much more misunderstanding.
One of the most worrying possibilities is a child with autism being unable to comply with police officers.
Thankfully, many departments now know how to interact with a variety of people and their conditions, and one officer with the Stockton Police Department in California illustrated that this week.
On Monday morning, a good samaritan noticed a child who seemed to be lost, “scared and confused,” according to the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook post.
“Shortly thereafter, a downtown bike officer located the child,” the post continued. “The officer identified the child through a bus pass and learned the child had non-verbal autism.”
Knowing this, the officer came up with a clever way to help the child.
“To communicate, the officer gave the child a pencil and paper,” the post said. “Through this form of communication, the officer was able to locate a family member and the child was safely reunited with a relative.”
People have been flocking to the post to thank the officer. Parents of children with autism have especially voiced their gratitude and offered other helpful suggestions as well.
“This brought me happy tears,” one reader wrote. “Thank you for your understanding, compassion and patience! I have a son who is non verbal and has Autism and can’t imagine the parents relief when he was safely brought back home.”
“Great training!” another woman wrote. “My son with Autism ran away from school last year. He was found a mile away by a paramedic and SPD. They did an amazing job getting him to communicate and helped him feel safe. Thank you so much for all you do!”
“An idea would be to have a picture communication system either on an iPad or in a binder to have if you encounter a nonverbal person/child who isn’t able to read or write.”
“Great job i noticed he kneeled down to the child’s level which makes them less scary,” he wrote.
There have been concerning stories in the past of law enforcement officers behaving questionably with people who have disabilities, but this is a great example of how steps are being taken in the right direction so that they can continue to protect and serve all members of their communities.
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