|Credit: West Midlands Police on Flickr|
There are many news stories about people with autism and other special needs getting injured or killed by police who misunderstood their actions. To try to prevent further tragedies, many police and other first responders now receive training to understand and identify people with hidden disabilities like autism.
Now it is time teach our children and other people with special needs how to deal with first responders like the police to avoid potentially dangerous interactions. Here are some tips:
Make contact with local services
Tell them about your child. Consider providing a laminated sheet with your child’s photo, description and type of disability to each service. Include specific information about how your child is affected by her disability. For example, hates bright lights, slow to respond to questions, won’t look at you, takes things literally, etc.
|Credit: OakleyOriginals on Flickr|
Arrange visits to your local emergency services so your child can meet some of the people and see the uniforms and equipment they use.
- If in a car, pull over safely and stay in the car unless asked to move by the police officer.
- If a pedestrian, do not run, stop and wait for the police officer to reach you.
Credit: Highway Patrol Images on Flickr
- Try to stay calm.
- Tell the police officer you have a disability and offer to show him or her your ID card/bracelet. Only do so if the officer asks to see it.
- Follow any instructions from the police officer.
- Keep hands visible unless told otherwise by the police officer.
- Do not make any sudden movements.
- Ask to call a parent, friend or lawyer.
Help your child to understand the roles played by public safety officials and other security people. Tell your child the type of help they can get from police officers, fire services, ambulance staff, etc.
Tell your children why police or other public safety officers may react to certain words or actions so your children understand why they shouldn’t use some words or take some actions. For example, tell your child that sudden movements make police officers think a person is reaching for a weapon. Describe how talking about bombs, explosions or weapons in an airport could lead to questioning by security.