The New York Times reports now that Police interaction is also a huge dilemma for autism parents and caregivers.
Charles Kinsey, a caregiver for a group home for adults with autism, was shot in the leg after trying to subdue and calm down a patient that wandered off premises. Again – I don’t know all the facts – this is a new article, and everyone has their own bias. There’s a huge gap between identifying himself to police and being shot in the leg. However, this is an example of what can be avoided.
This is something we have been acutely aware of for many years ,but have been silent for fear of sharing our experiences. We had a male nanny that was nearly attacked by enraged parents at a playground for trying to get our oldest daughter into her car seat when she was about 7 when she didn’t want to leave the park. He had both of our other younger children with him.
Our daughter attacked him – hitting him on the head, scratching him, pulling out his hair. The parents swore they witnessed him punching her in the face. He had to call me on his cell phone and I helped calm her down – and witness what was being said to him. They threatened to call the police – he told them that was a fantastic idea. He didn’t try to run or engage in a confrontation. The call was so I would be aware of what was happening. He offered to have me explain to other parents. We had a card that identified our child had autism, and that her behavior could be unpredictable and violent. And that those trying to protect her from herself and protect others from her may not appear to be doing so, but are professionally trained.
The police arrested him after he left our house that night. They waited until he’d dropped off the kids.
They came into the apartment, examined the kids, interviewed us. This was not exactly a choice – as they had our nanny in custody. We had the behavioral agency write letters, we wrote letters, it took months to have it “unjustified.” And when something else happened two years later – LAPD asked us about it. Before they had made it sound like this would be something no longer on his record. Yet LAPD referenced it, and attempted to use it as evidence of a pattern, as if she was abused. Fortunately, we were lucky enough that the incident happened in front of three therapists, a nanny and a speech therapist – all mandated reporters. They were all able to testify to the facts – and that was the only reason our kids weren’t automatically taken away that horrible day. The caseworker’s phone never stopped ringing. I never thought having intense therapy that invaded every aspect of our lives and privacy would be our saving grace then. The police interviewed the children separately – kids that have been through years of therapy to try and actively read body language and give the preferred response.
Police and parents SHOULD be looking out for our kids. I’m glad they did. But a little education would have gone a long way in this case. And under NO circumstances once the children were identified as autistic should the kids have been interviewed without a qualified therapist present.
Male therapists are far more likely to have the police called on them.
This therapist, Charles Kinsey, did what he should have – and identified himself. How do we help good therapists? (Click here to read the full NYT article)
I don’t think there should have been any legal proceedings against our nanny as soon as it was obvious our daughter had autism, and a reputable agency vouched for his training, we vouched for his authority and that the children were NOT marked in any way or abused. This kind of thing follows people forever – even in cases where it’s dismissed. Its like a bad penny.
In terms we all know – we need to come up with a proactive behavioral plan to deal with the antecedent and underlying causation. Remember – SEAT – every behavior has a function. Sensory, Escape, Access (to tangible or not) and Tactile. For laypersons – We need to educate police officers. And ourselves – before the situation gets worse. A tidal wave of a generation of autistic people are becoming young adults. How do we help them?