Over the last few weeks, I've read several blogs where aspies have described their interactions with the law. In every case, the incidents were blown out of proportion by the tactics of the police and the social difficulties experienced by the aspie.
I too have had difficulties with the police (and other aspects of the law).
My first major police incident was as a teen being pulled over for speeding. At the time, I had an old car which took forever to warm up and I really knew very little about cars. The car was misbehaving and I thought that maybe it needed to warm up (in actual fact, it was overheating due to a burst water filter). I tried going fast to warm it up - and that was when the police turned up behind me.
I told the police that there was something wrong with the car and they just laughed and said "yeah, what? the brakes?". Luckily I knew to just keep quiet otherwise I'm sure they'd have tried to take things further.
Following the Wrong Rules
My second infraction was again, speeding but this time I knew I was in the wrong. I was pulled over and instead of waiting for the police, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
A few weeks earlier there had been a documentary on TV by Allan Pease, a famous body language expert. He suggested that it was best to approach police when in trouble and adopt a "lower then them" posture.
I really didn't want to have to pay a fine or to lose points off my licence. I remembered Allan Pease's information but knowing that the police were already stopped behind me, I knew I'd have to be quick to get into position. I jumped out of the car and started running towards the police.
They threw open their doors, took shelter behind them and pointed their guns at me. It didn't help that being deaf, it took a few shouts before I could understand that they were telling me to stop.
It took a lot of convincing (and a full car search) to let them know that I was innocent (except for the speeding). I didn't want to tell them the truth about the Allan Pease show because then I'd spoil my tactic. I think that they knew I was withholding some information and it was quite a while before they let me go.
I've had other run-in's with the police and with unsavory characters. Once, when I was about sixteen and on holiday in Perth, a man kept following me everywhere asking me to have a drink with him. I told him that I wasn't thirsty but he persisted. Then I said I wanted to look in a bookshop and he wanted to wait outside. Eventually I told him that I really needed to go home (which was the truth).
It wasn't until later when I was telling my mother about my day - and I mentioned this annoying person that I discovered that the man had been a pedophile.
And the point is....
All of this makes me wonder what the best approach for teaching my aspergers children about the real world is.
Preparing for Encounters with the Police
Certainly I need to ensure that they understand that whenever the police are involved, they need to just quieten down, accept where things are going and say almost nothing. In fact, they should probably request that their parents be contacted and wait until we arrive.
I'm not sure how well this would work with the police. The other options involve either registering my children with the police as having Aspergers syndrome (which translates to an "approach with caution" directive). I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not as it may increase the likelihood of a situation escalating to violence.
I'm increasingly thinking that a happy medium would be to provide them with a card that says they have aspergers and which explains some traits (and has my contact details). They're not old enough to carry a card without losing it yet but perhaps this is the best option.
Building appropriate levels of suspicion
It's very easy to set a trigger for a given type of behavior. For example; if someone, even a "little old lady" asks you to carry their bags through airport security, they're a drug dealer, it's a bad thing and "don't do it". Similarly, an adult who is interested in your genitalia and isn't a doctor is a pedophile.
Unfortunately, triggers aren't always so visible.
The little old lady could fake an accident and tell the aspie to take care of her stuff without raising suspicion. Similarly, in my case, the pedophile wasn't asking anything sexual. They just wanted to know if we could go for a drink.
An aspie will react to a black and white trigger but a "grey one" will slip by completely unnoticed. I don't want to make my kids suspicious of everyone but unless I instill in them a certain level of caution, they'll take anything for granted.
It's a difficult choice and I'm not entirely sure what the best answer is.