“I don’t like Police Mom! They take away people and put them in jail.” – Ryder, 6 years old.
Oy! How do you tackle this one? I knew I had to change Ryder’s attitude about Policemen. Would a social story work? Tried it, didn’t really work. Show him a Police show on TLC? Definitely won’t work. Maybe a movie about cops? HA! In a lot of movies, cops are portrayed as corrupt! Not gonna work with my son with autism.
The only thing I knew that would work is a visit with a real Police Officer. Off to do some research. First call I made was to the Ottawa Police. I didn’t get very far. There wasn’t any program where a kid could come in and talk to a Police Officer. Then I remembered the Ottawa Police Autism Registry. Perhaps they would be of some guidance. So I called the main contact for that program. Wow! They were so accommodating.
A connection was made and a date was set. I prepared Ryder for our outing to the Huntmar Police Station in Kanata. At first he was not overly excited, but as the day approached he was super excited.
We met with Police Officer Jamie Dunlop. Right from the moment Ryder met him, I knew that there was a connection. During our visit, Ryder and I got to tour the entire Huntmar Police Station. It was amazing, not only for Ryder but myself. The highlight of Ryder’s visit was definitely when he got to play with the sirens in the police car. He would not stop talking about it afterwards for weeks!
The message that Ryder really heard from our visit was that Police officers are there to help people no matter what. They could be trusted upon at anytime.
I’m so happy that Ryder was able to go on this visit. It made such a difference in his attitude towards law enforcement. He now says that he wants to be a Police Officer when he grows up. A far cry from Iron Man!
Here is some information on the Autism Registry:
The Registry for People with Autism
is an Ottawa Police Service 2010 pilot project in partnership with the Ottawa Chapter of Autism Ontario. The online registry promotes communication and gives police quick access to critical information about a registered person with autism.
The Registry can provide police with emergency contact information, detailed physical descriptions, known routines, favourite attractions or special needs of the individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This information can assist officers in communicating with, attending a residence of or dealing with an emergency involving an individual with ASD.