In yet another horror story of schools and police criminalizing autism, an eight year old girl at Lovejoy Elementary School in Alton, Ill., was jailed for over two hours by Alton police because of tantrum behavior. The youngster, who suffers from autism, anxiety disorder, and depression threw a fit at school and was screaming and kicking. Her uncle, who is also her guardian was called to the scene and was en route to the school, but before he could arrive, administrators called 911. The child was handcuffed, and shackled at the waist and feet. Her uncle maintained she asked to use the bathroom at the police station but her requests were ignored. They gave her nothing to eat or drink and she was in custody for two hours. When she finally came home, her eyes were swollen from crying and there were welts around her wrists from the handcuffs.
The school district of Alton is nowhere to be found in the aftermath of this appalling episode. The police captain has come forward with a disturbingly adamant statement about the correctness of the police response. We need to have some way to intervene in these situations and demand that schools and police departments be educated in autism and the correct response to an child who is out of control.
Meltdowns," a guide issued on Tony Attwood’s website should be mandatory reading from all police departments and schools.
This madness must end. Our children’s emotional health and well-being, and personal freedom are at stake.
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