Last year, 17-year-old Melissa Jones had her life changed forever. After going into a convenient store to buy a drink with a friend, a drunken woman attacked the two girls, leaving them with bruises. Instead of arresting the attacker, though, police took Jones into custody saying she was intoxicated. The truth? She is autistic.
The rest of the story is a true nightmare. Her mother came to her side, telling police that her daughter had autism, ADD, and communication problems. When a doctor confirmed she hadn't been drinking, she was still held for 10 hours in a cell, fingerprinted, and charged with being drunk and disorderly.
Parents of autistic children have to overcome obstacles on a regular basis. People are constantly staring, fingers are being pointed, one Milwaukee man with autism was asked to be put on a leash inside of a Whole Foods, and now ... a teen arrested for being "drunk" in public? The rate of autism is rising. People have to get more educated.
Children with autism deserve to be treated with more empathy. Today, autism occurs in 1 in 88 kids. Because it's so common, one would expect that society as a whole would show more compassion toward those effected. Instead, for one girl in England, she's treated like an intoxicated lunatic for being unable to control her emotions.
My heart hurts thinking about Melissa and her mother. Thankfully, the charges have been dropped against her due to "lack of evidence," but they are forever on her record. Melissa became suicidal because of the way the authorities treated her. A teenager, who should simply be enjoying studying baking at university, is forever changed. Let's hope that maybe after this horrific incident, the authorities will change their ways as well.
Can you believe this?
Image via dereksky/Flickr