I had a conversation today that disturbed me.
I was talking with one of my clients and his aunt. The aunt was telling me about some of the new experiences the client was enjoying. She then told me about her nephew’s desire to ride the city bus downtown by himself and eat lunch.
She explained that he had learned to ride the bus and she would let him go, but she wasn’t ready to let him go alone. My immediate thought was she worried about him getting lost or robbed, her actual fear never dawned on me.
The client is a young black man with autism. To see him walking down the street people would not immediately recognize his disability.
She began explaining her concern. If her nephew is stopped by a police officer it is possible that he will become nervous and when he becomes nervous he starts waving his arms and talking in circles. The officer could easily misunderstand his reaction and react negatively in return.
I looked at the young man sitting next to me. I felt powerless. I felt fear for this young man. He is such a kind and gentle guy and I instantly understood her fear.
Not only was I upset at the fear I felt for this young man I was also angry that people have to worry about protecting their children from the very people that are paid to protect all of us.
There was a time when I would advice my clients to seek out an officer for help. Now I have to second guess whether that is a good idea.