In our ongoing efforts to help people with autism navigate an ever-changing world, we have often focused our attention on the everyday tasks — such as education and employment opportunities. But if we are to continue to push toward a better world, we have to push our conversation toward creating understanding in everyday situations.
Note From Eve:
Officers need to be trained. Nothing on a driver’s license is going to help them (other than set you up for discrimination and registry lists) understand our Autistic needs.
If they aren’t trained, they won’t recognize the differences that are possible in our body language, mannerisms and expressions.
Officers that are trained can wear a symbol, so Autistics can know they have a friggin clue about us and can be someone of help, rather than someone to mistrust. I’ve spoken to many first responders and officers to break the stigma of living with PTSD/Mental Illness and to share with them about Autistics.
Without breaking stigma and training, stickers don’t do a damn thing. I’ve been mute and unable to self-advocate with flashing lights before and the officers that had training understood and helped mute the extra stuff during the traffic stop.
So until these officers and first responders are trained … the sticker is just going to introduce stigma and false concepts of what autism is and how we are … and leave officers no better prepared to do their jobs with Autistic people. We need good outcomes for both peers and officers. Stickers aren’t it.
Here’s an example to illustrate:
Did your Autism knowledge increase?
Person’s Comment Response on the Story: If a citizen can’t manage a traffic stop, which is a basic skill, why do they have a driver license?
Ensure special needs folks have plenty of opportunity for a great life, but not at the expense of strength.
My response to the comment:
It’s an officers duty to work within their community.
Communities are made up of people of all abilities, autistic, divergent and NT. Autistic people don’t present the same as other folks and our body language can be easily misinterpreted as our social signals and expressions.
We live in these communities just like you and have the same inalienable and constitutional rights as you. The outcomes of these miscommunicate, and interactions can easily leave an Autistic dead.
With training of the officers and first responders this will change. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve experienced the positive outcomes myself. And with that Autistics can be taught what to expect from a traffic stop, what’s ok to say, what their rights are, and when to ask for a lawyer.
Also we have to think about, how do we survive jail if this traffic stop goes sideways. There’s programs out there doing this now.
Eve Reiland (US)
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