Should Public Employees be Mandated to Understand How to Recognize & Accommodate Autism?
In March 2013 an 8-year old Autistic girl was handcuffed and jailed for over 2 hours for having a tantrum
at school. This, just a few years after another 8-year old Autistic girl was escorted from her elementary
school in handcuffs as her mother arrived and watched in horror. How is this even possible? For disabled
children to be terrified by the very institutions that have been entrusted with their care.
As an educator myself, I see diagnosed and undiagnosed Autistic children every day in and out of the
classrooms and on campuses. Instinctively, these children gravitate toward me because somehow they realize
that I “get” them. They talk to me before and after class and hang out at nutrition and lunch breaks.
They just know.
In my world, Autism is as easy to see as a red light or a green tree. I realize that many educators and
public services people such as policemen, firemen, medical doctors and nurses may not be as “close” to Autism
as I am, but it just seems to me that it should be their responsibility to learn how to identify people on
the Spectrum as easily as a drunk driver or a Type I Diabetic.
8-Year Old Handcuffed, Detained by Police for Temper Tantrum at School
It is clear to see in the above video that this young girl, Jmyha Rickman, has special needs. She is bright
and adorable, but she does not have neuro-typical social interactions. Classic Autism.
It seems impossible that Jmyha’s teachers could not handle her tantrum, or that the police were necessary,
as opposed to a specially trained child psychologist, who would have been much more appropriate in this
situation. How could the teachers not have told the police that Jmyha was Autistic? Either way, they treated
her worse than they would have treated a frightened and lost puppy, had they found one. All of the
perpetrators claim that it took Jmaya’s uncle two hours to retrieve her. Last time I checked, a school day is
6 hours. Maybe they should not take responsibility (and a lot of money) to teach and care for Autistic children
if they can’t even cover the basics (which an emotional tantrum is). Just a thought.
What do you think?
YouTube has the full video posted here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w95hiDQmgnE)
Here is a compelling article about undiagnosed children in school: (http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/04/01/autism-diagnosis-expulsion/7500/)