I am worried that my son with Asperger’s might get in trouble with the police if he is pulled over while driving.
I am worried that my son with Asperger’s might get in trouble with the police if he is pulled over while driving. Once he is pulled over it might cause him to become upset and trigger a meltdown. What can I do?
Your concerns are quite common for parents of older children and young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. Many people, including law enforcement professionals, are totally unaware of the prevalence of Asperger’s Syndrome in every community. There is limited knowledge regarding the characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome. They simply would not recognize the condition if they saw it.
There are several characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome that can cause your teen or young adult problems when facing law enforcement professionals during intense situations.
- The lack of social awareness, including social cues, gestures, body language, and the concept of personal space can be a big problem. If an officer of the law motions for your child to step back, he may not understand that motion. If he continues to advance, he could find himself wrestled to the ground. And that is just one example.
- The inability to make eye contact is an often misunderstood problem. Making eye contact is very difficult for people with Asperger’s Syndrome. Some describe eye contact as physically painful. Law enforcement professionals are trained that a lack of eye contact means the person is guilty or lying. This is very unfortunate for people with Asperger’s Syndrome.
- People with Asperger’s Syndrome have a likelihood of suffering high anxiety under stress. Professionals without knowledge of this condition can misunderstand this.
- People with Asperger’s Syndrome sometimes speak in an inappropriate tone. Antagonistic patterns of speech may come across as argumentative during a legally charged situation.
Not only is it very important that we prepare our children for the world, we must also prepare our world for our children. The only way to do that is to promote awareness within your community. Here are some ways to do this.
- Become active in your local Autism support organization. These groups have printed literature you can share with local businesses and government offices. They also may have programs and events that help promote awareness.
- Tell your local law enforcement officers about your child. You can do this as part of the above-mentioned awareness activities, or you can make a visit to your local fire and police departments. Concerned citizens should be welcome at both facilities.
- Make sure your child carries some type of medical alert identification card. This card may be invaluable if your child finds himself in a precarious situation.
Educating ourselves and those around us is necessary for the success of the Autism community.