My brother, Plato, struggles trying to be himself in a world that treats being different as a crime. My brother likes to look for aluminum cans and loose change that can be found in vacuum cleaners at various car washes. Of course this behavior did not go unnoticed by the police. Plato recounted the story this way,”A police officer saw me and gave him a ticket for looking for cans on private property (an apartment complex dumpster), one for a broken tail-light, one for making a U turn, and one for being for a public nuisance.” The police officer then told him never to come back to that area again because he was tired of seeing him in the area.
Plato has been taken to jail several times for public nuisance, etc. My parents have simply gotten tired of the police arresting him so they stopped making bail. There have been occasions when Plato has irritated the life out of the officers so they let him go and the process started all over again. I often laugh at one scenario where the police officers were so frazzled by Plato flushing the toilet over and over again that they just sent him home and dropped the charges. They even sent the city commissioner to my parents’ house to ask my parents, “Why can’t you control him?” It is apparent to me that the police officers really do not understand the mind of an adult with autism. The truth is that my parents gave up a long time ago trying to MAKE Plato do anything. It is my family’s contention that as long as what Plato is doing is not causing physical harm to him or others then he should be left alone.
The problem is that Plato has been living in the same area for over 30 years. One would think that the police or fire department would have a tag by his name stating that he has autism and a list of the proper steps to take or people to call. We should teach our public servants kindness and how to respond to adults with developmental disabilities so that court systems and tax money is not wasted on silly stuff. I look forward to the day where being different is no longer a crime.