Registering Special Needs Kids With Police Could Be a Lifesaver

child police carIt's a fear for every parent of a special needs child: what happens if you aren't there to speak for your child in an emergency situation? Will emergency responders understand your kid has a condition that requires special attention? Prepare for a surprisingly simple answer.


What if there was a registry you could add your child to, so emergency responders would know who they were dealing with? It's just what parents in one area of Canada have done for children on the autism spectrum. They voluntarily sign their child up to be on the list, and they say they're relieved that their kid's name is flagged if police are called out to respond to a situation.

It makes a lot of sense for kids with autism. For many of them, the noise of a siren and the flashing lights of a police car or ambulance will trigger their discomfort. And depending on where they fall on the spectrum, their behavior can be mistaken by someone who isn't aware of their condition as inappropriate or even violent.

More From The Stir: Autism From A to Z: Everything a Mom Needs to Know

We've seen some horrific treatment of kids on the spectrum in recent years from people who could not grasp that an autistic child can't be expected to act like other kids in their age range -- everything from pepper spraying to kids being handcuffed and thrown into psychiatric wards by cops for outbursts beyond their control.

But if we could start something like this in America, I see a need to take it a step beyond autism. What if it was for all kids with a special need? Kids whose parents can't be with them 24/7 -- whether it's because the kids go to school or because accidents happen.

Fans of Switched at Birth, a teen hit that's striking a chord in the special needs community for featuring two deaf teens as main characters, saw just this week what can happen when cops don't know a child has a special need. With the bright lights of a squad car shining in his eyes, deaf teen Emmett Bledsoe couldn't see to read the lips of police officers who were trying to talk to him ... and of course he couldn't read them. The cliffhanger ending showed us Emmett being arrested, ostensibly for failing to cooperate with the cops. What a difference something like this could have made.

As long as this was voluntary -- you didn't HAVE to sign your kid up -- would you consider this a help for your family?

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