Asperger’s Syndrome & First Responders

Through December 2016, I will be writing several comprehensive posts about my experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome that will be shared with my college course blog. Access to this blog is only available to my Washburn University students and professor.


Today I am looking at a different aspect of Asperger’s Syndrome and how the first responders [law enforcement and medical personnel] portray individuals with ASD and autism.  This reminded me of an incident that happened over this last Summer I did not have a chance to voice my thoughts on that should be said even though it’s rather late.  This incident was at the end of July in Miami, Florida.

Here’s the summary of the occurrence, the Miami-Dade Police Department was responding to a call where a young male was in the street with a gun threatening to kill himself.  In fact, the story turns out to be a young man who happens to be autistic left a mental health facility with a toy.  While the young male was no threat to himself, a caretaker, Charles Kinsey, 47 who happens to be of color.  Kinsey was trying to bring the patient back was confronted by police and then shot by an assault rifle and told to lay down on the ground.  Kinsey was also trying to tell the patient to do the same, but instead, the young autistic male sat on the curb next to Kinsey playing with his toy.

While I am personally glad the autistic young male was not arrested or in any physical harm except being handcuffed temporarily, this was a bad judgment call from the officer who initially arrived on scene thinking Kinsey was the one with the gun which turned out not to be the case.

For us individuals who have ASD or autism that get traumatized by very stressful situations, such as law enforcement confrontation such as the scene above or in an accident that involves medical attention.  Depending on the complexity of individuals with ASD and autism, it is smart to have a caretaker or medical bracelet that lets those responders know of your condition.  Most personnel if they are not should be trained to be looking for medical bracelets if there is no caretaker involved.

Photo: RoadID Bracelets
Source: Nathaniel Jackson, 2016

This is one reason I have decided to join RoadID, and I have two bracelets one which I use when here in town while the other is used when traveling.  This indicates to any medical or law enforcement official I have Asperger’s Syndrome.  Every few months I update the information online that is tied to the bracelets with the relevant legal and medical information as needed.

Even to this day, I am intimidated by law enforcement officers because of two incidents that happened to me several years ago.