Why Handcuffing a Child with Asperger's Is Wrong
[Editor's Note: Sometimes I think we're making great strides with how we treat, help and respect children with special needs. And then a story like this one out of Toronto in which a nine-year-old with Asperger's was handcuffed by police during an issue at his daycare reminds me that much work is left to be done. Living My Social Work has written an important piece about the story, including a review of everything that was done wrong and what could have been done right. Her point that there are villains in this story and not one of them is a little boy named Austin is an important one. It's a must read and a must share. -Jenna]
Would ANY child be thrown in a room, have the police called on him/her, and be put in handcuffs until s/he calmed down? Would any child feel welcome or feel like s/he was treated in a thoughtful and respectful way, like all other children, after such treatment?
The response of Toronto Police Services is also reprehensible. He calmed down, and wasn’t injured, so it’s all good? The kid is TERRIFIED of the police now (and rightfully so). What would the official statement have been if he’d had bruises or abrasions, or if he’d dislocated his shoulder? What if putting him in cuffs scared him so much that his anxiety was amplified, and he attacked the officer? Would we have been dealing with a fatal taser blast to a small child, or other use of unnecessary force? Would the (and I apologize for the coming pun) post-mortem after this case read differently in that situation? Would the police accept the institutional responsibility if it hadn’t gone down the way they’d hoped it would?