Toronto police are defending their decision to handcuff a 9-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome at Fairbank Memorial Day Care Centre on July 28. According to the Toronto Sun, the center called police after they had locked the child in a room. Const. Victor Kwong said the boy was “being aggressive” and had “barricaded himself with tables and chairs… [and] thrown paint all over the room”; officers entered the room, told the boy to lie down and handcuffed him.
While police have been defending themselves, the autism community in Ontario has been quick to criticize law enforcement for using such heavy-handed tactics. Dr. Glenn Rampton, the CEO of Kerry’s Place Autism Services, which serves 5,000 autistic clients across Southern Ontario, said simply, “That wouldn’t be appropriate for any child”:
The boy blamed his tantrum on being bullied during the lunch hour. Children with autistic spectrum disorder can often have outbursts when they become frustrated, Dr. Rampton said. But there are far better ways of dealing with the situation — such as avoiding the triggers and defusing their anger — than mechanically restraining them.
“Why would two great big policemen need to put handcuffs on a nine-year-old when they should be fully capable of calming that child down?” the psychologist demanded. “Maybe they shouldn’t go out on a call like that unless they’re trained to deal with it.”
The child’s mother, Linda Dastous, says that her son is “traumatized” and “devastated”; the child himself says that he’s now “scared” whenever he sees police.
Peter Frampton, director of the center’s parent organization, the Learning Enrichment Foundation, said that his staff “are not able to restrain a child nor should they.” Dastous says, though, that the center simply called 911 rather than contacting her first to defuse the situation.
Read more: abuse, aspergers, autism, emt, first responder, handcuffs, law enforcement, pdd-nos, police, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, restraint, special ed, special education, special needs, toronto
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