Sunday, September 6, 2009

Like Deja Vu only Worse

At the end of July I wrote a post explaining in some fashion how hard mothers, well, parents, of children with special needs work to be sure we cover all the bases. You'd probably read it here before and you may read of it again in one fashion or another through the life expectancy of this blog. That entry was more for my friend than for any other person. I was so angry and distraught for she and her family at the time.

Before I get to their story, I need to tell you another story ... as a way to show that this type of incident is not an unusual occurrence per se.

Five or six years ago, which now seems ages and ages ago, which is often the case after bad things happen to really good people, a friend whose son has special needs got into some mischief. Mischief is perhaps too weak a word, but criminal activity is far too strong to describe exactly what happened.

There's a lot of history that goes with the story but I can't state it here ... it'd take all night and part of next week.

... a few years back this nearly teen went for a bike ride and found himself at a local farm where he knew many of the workers. He had a visit and then left his bike there and took off in the farm's SUV. He drove this SUV all the way to Boston where he was involved in a fender bender. He being the hitter not the hittee. The woman whose car he smashed into was fine with no injuries and little damage to the vehicle and so when the State Police arrived to the scene, information was exchanged and the woman left. The SPO had the SUV towed -- because after all it was stolen (although not reported as such) and the driver was not only underage and unlicensed, he was obviously a boy with special needs, although his special needs are not visible to the naked eye.

In the end, a parent was called and drove into Boston to pick him up, the SUV was retrieved by farm personnel and while one local police department believed charges should be brought forward, the town where the SUV was housed, the farm owner and the SPD did not believe that should be the case, because, the nearly teen was really incapable of understanding that he should not have taken the SUV ... until it was explained to him after the fact.

His response to all the hubbub was "I was going to visit my teacher." Yes, he was a student in an out of district placement and he knew exactly how to get to his teacher. He had been riding a special needs van for a number of years to Boston. Five days a week.

So here comes the Deja Vu only Worse.

Recently my good friend, the parent of another young man with special needs called me to relate a story that gave me chills and I was as distraught as one parent could be for another.

Her son, nearly an adult, rode his bike to their local bank. He parked his bike near the back of the building where he had been told to by his parents (to avoid going through he parking lot and coping with cars pulling in and out) and went in to the bank to make a deposit to his checking account. This was not a new activity, quite the contrary, he'd been going to this bank for some time and as I understand it, usually went to the same teller each time he went in.

What happened next is somewhat of a mystery ... primarily because the story to the parents comes from more than one source. It's a hodge podge of trying to sort out the information but regardless of just how things went from making a deposit to being arrested ... the police officers involved had no idea this young man has special needs, although his special needs are visible to the naked eye.

Well. Shut my open mouth.


This young man's speech can be unintelligible to people who don't know him or have 'untrained' ears ... despite the fact that this young man has a visible indicator of a disability ... the officer who arrested him only thought there might be something wrong because the young man told him he understood what he was talking about but asked to explain, could not.

You know, we love our kids and think they are perfect just the way they are. That being said, we are also the first to admit that even sometimes we can't understand what they are trying to communicate. On a good day. Imagine what it's like when there is a high level of stress or nerves thrown into the processing of language.

Handcuffed, placed in a cruiser and booked at the police station, finally a parent is notified and arrives to pick him up. Of course there was bail to contend with. And the newspaper calling to find out what happened.

For his parents part, "No comment" was the word of the week and for the moment continues to be so. They are making every effort to keep this incident from becoming a media circus. On the one hand they want and need to keep quiet about it to protect the young man's reputation, good citizen standing and let Lady Justice do her job. But the other hand? Oh, that one is in a much tougher place ...

I admire their ability to keep the faith. To not lash out and make public statements that may make matters worse in the end.

For young man's part ... he's worried about going to jail. And since he can't understand why he was arrested, how is he to know that he won't end up in jail?

In the end, I believe Lady Justice will have her say ... but that's in the end. In the meanwhile there's a lot of sorting out to do. While the sorting and the wheels of justice are turning at a snail like pace, please keep this young man in your good thoughts and prayers.


Cindi said...

Im a parent of adult special needs...may I never get a phone call like just breaks your son always it waving & smiling to the police..they are like Santa Claus for him...if they took him away, it would be difficult for him to comprend why they would do such a thing...

Mortimer said...

Since you didn't supply any details, it's hard to understand how something so routine as making a bank deposit could result in an arrest and media attention. That being said, my life has had, on occasion, a similar pinball effect and I don't have the added handicap of special needs (although there are those who would suggest some sort of mental therapy sessions). So, even without the pertinent details, I can relate. I do hope everything works out, I know that police officers can be overzealous and I hope that this is just a huge and unfortunate misunderstanding and cooler heads will sort things out.

Missie said...

The poor kid! Keeping him and his family in my prayers.

Kathy said...

Cindi! That's exactly it ... here this young man thinks the police are his friends and now, he's terribly worried all the time about going to jail. It does break your heart.

Mortimer, I know it's tough to comment when you don't have all the info, but for now, I'll leave this as is and when things have been worked through, I'll post the full story.