Newfoundland, Canada – The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in partnership with the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador has launched a voluntary registry of people on the autism spectrum this week. The registry contains a person’s physical descriptions, known routs and common destinations, likes and dislikes, and any special needs the person on the spectrum has.
While RNC Chief William Janes hopes the registry will help the force better serve the community, many think the registry will only hurt those on it.
Spokesperson for the Families for Effective Treatment of Autism (FEATNL), and father of two children on the spectrum, Tony Howell, told news outlet CBC News that:
“I have seen virtually no support for it,” before adding “If you’re on a police registry, what impression does that leave? Obviously that you’re a danger to the public.”
Diane Spurrell sees the registry differently. She has a 24-year-old son Dane who is on the spectrum. During a everyday trip the the video store six years ago Dane came into contact with the police. He is high-functioning, but like many on the spectrum he deals with stress different then a nuerotypical person. With his uncommon response to stress and failure to satisfy the police’s questions, Dane was brought in. He spent the night in jail for intoxication.
Thankfully, once aware of Dane’s learning difference, the RNC apologized and made the police complete sensitivity training. But Spurrell thinks incidents like this could be avoided with the registry’s help.
She told CBC News that:
“My concern is about informing first responders on behalf of somebody who cannot inform them, themselves…For example, my son would come up here now and look at you and say in your face, ‘I’m not autistic.’” Spurrell is concerned no one will use the registry because of the stigma registries carry and implores people to look beyond that.
Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead.
Source: CBC News Newfoundland and Labrador: Autism registry ‘not a negative thing’, says Diane Spurrell