Autism is one of the most commonly misunderstood conditions, as it’s not always obvious to an outsider when someone is on the autism spectrum.
Typically, autism can affect communication and sensory processing, and those on the higher end of the spectrum may struggle to speak to their peers.
Anyone who has an autistic friend or relative will know the importance of protecting an autistic individual, especially when they are young.
But earlier this month, police in Stockton, California, received a call that a little boy, who they didn’t yet know was autistic, was lost and confused at the side of the road.
When the officer arrived, the little boy wasn’t able to give him any information about his name or identity. Luckily, he had a bus pass in his pocket, and the officer was able to use this to learn more about him.
Now knowing the little boy’s name, the officer began to speak to him and gain his trust. He knew by this point that the little boy was autistic nonverbal, so he had to be more creative with asking for information.
Instead of speaking directly to the officer, the little boy wrote some information on a piece of paper that would help the officer locate his parents. Thanks to the pair’s successful non-verbal communication, the little boy was reunited with his family later that day.
Nonverbal autism affects up to 40 percent of children with an autistic spectrum disorder. It’s characterized by a difficulty in carrying a conversation with another person or even speaking at all.
In some cases, this can be because a person has something called apraxia of speech, which is a speech disorder most common in children. Even when the individual knows what they want to say, they might not be able to make their mouth move to form the words they’re after.
Another cause of nonverbal autism is the underdevelopment of verbal language skills that the majority of us take for granted. Though this may prevent a child from being able to speak, they can still communicate indirectly, as shown through this child’s communication with the officer.
The story of the officer and the little boy was shared to the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook page, and featured photo of the officer kneeling down next to the boy.
Alongside the photo, the caption read:
“This morning, a community member notified the police department there was a child near the downtown area who appeared ‘scared and confused.’ Shortly thereafter, a downtown bike officer located the child.
“The officer identified the child through a bus pass and learned the child had non-verbal autism. To communicate, the officer gave the child a pencil and paper. Though this form of communication, the officer was able to locate a family member and the child was safely reunited with a relative.”
Highlighting the police officers all over the country who are working for the good is so important now, and seeing this story definitely helps to restore the public’s faith in the police in general.
Though questioning the motives of certain police officers is long overdue, stories like these are a much-needed reminder that for every bad officer out there, there are hundreds who would only ever do the right thing for society. It would be wrong to paint everyone with the same brush.
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SPD News: A Good OutcomeThis morning, a community member notified the police department there was a child near the…
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