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Law Enforcement Needs Education On Autism

I have talked about how autism complicates employment. Making it hard for us to get or keep a job. let's talk about how autism makes it harder for us when it comes to cops. In fact, a person with autism can be mistaken for a person on drugs because we do have alike traits to a person who is intoxicated.  While it's important for a doctor, nurse EMT etc to know someone has autism. It's 25xs as important for cops to know, too.

It's likely to happen to be stopped by a cop. Heck, I get nervous the minute I see a cop car because I know I am toast if I get stopped due to their lack of autism training/understanding.  I live in Illinois so I don't know if the cops here know about autism. Our traits like anxiety, stuttering, lack of understanding verbal instructions etc can be easily misread from the officer. I am in a group with autistic people and a person posted how they got detained due to their autism. 

They were not looking the cop in the eye ( in some cases autistic people DO NOT make eye contact.) Which made the cop suspicious. When the cop asks you to exit the car, the person may not understand why they are being asked to leave the vehicle. With us, you need to explain why you need us to do X or why you need to do Y. Another important this is because we lack social skills and cues, we could inadvertently befriend a criminal. We are very trustworthy but that can be bad if someone uses this to their advantage. We could inadvertently be an accomplice or an accessory to the crime. Some of us may not understand these terms.  The cop can misread our inability to detect social cues as not cooperating with him/her. We may not understand how the cop can see our behavior. We need time to process and understand. If the cop doesn't get an immediate response he/she could yell thus making the aspie even more nervous and anxious. 

 The cop could think we are hiding something if we don't respond right away. We may not understand what the cop needs us to do if he/she gives verbal instructions with no visuals. We are also clumsy which can complicate the road site drug tests cops are required to give if they suspect you are under the influence. You have to remember that autistic people will not understand people's reactions to their actions. A little off-topic example is I got the rest of the potatoes my grandma cooked. I wanted something quick because I was going to the store. My mom had gotten angry that I took the potatoes and I have no clue why she was mad over some potatoes. In other words, if we do something not knowing it's wrong, we don't understand why we're being reported or why the person is angry.

If the person cries, yells etc due to a meltdown, the cop can see it as the person is hiding drugs or even on drugs. Sometimes the cop will harass the person. Like I said the workforce being run on neurotypical standards, the law enforcement is on neurotypical standards, too.

If You're A Cop And You Happen To Stop Someone Who Is Autistic 

  • DO NOT yell at them. You will make them more anxious. 
  • If they don't look you in the eye, it's not because they're guilty, it's just apart of the disorder.
  • You will have to explain why you want them to follow your orders. 'Example, I need you to step out of the car so I can talk to you.' 
  • People with autism can and will display alike traits to someone on drugs. However, the person is NOT on drugs. Anxiety, stuttering, flapping etc. All of these behaviors are apart of their disorder. Most people on the autism spectrum will have an anxiety disorder. 
  • They need time to process and understand. Don't expect an answer right away. 
  • The sirens and flashing lights on your car can be a sensory trigger to them or a flashlight if you stop them at night. 
  • They are not aware of how their behavior can be seen by someone else because we don't have the ability to detect social cues.
  • We don't understand how our actions cause people to react so it's important you explain in a positive matter. In general, we don't know how you may see a certain phrase. 
  • We take things literally so avoid literal phrases. 


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