Mom praises police for kind response to autistic son's episode
Published Monday, October 17, 2016 7:13PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, October 17, 2016 7:19PM PDT
A B.C. mom has penned a heartfelt thank-you to two police officers for the kind and tactful way they responded to a tense situation involving her son, a 10-year-old boy with autism.
Alexandra Samuel, a professional writer and speaker, said she was in downtown Vancouver with her son last Wednesday when he suddenly made a dash toward traffic on Burrard Street.
The boy, who is highly gifted, sometimes experiences episodes of intense anxiety. Samuel said though they happen less frequently than they used to, they're becoming more challenging to manage as he gets bigger.
"He can really have a total meltdown where he loses control," she told CTV News. "In that moment he needs to escape from his feelings, and running into traffic seemed like a way to do that."
Fortunately, she was able to pull the boy away from danger, then pin him to the ground as a means of keeping him safe.
It was then that she was approached by two female officers from the Vancouver Police Department. Samuel said she was initially concerned; she described having fretted before about the possibility she'd one day have to call police to help her with her son, and how that situation might play out.
"I've been terrified to do so, because I'm worried about scaring him – or worse yet, getting into a conflict with law enforcement," she wrote in an open letter.
Fortunately, those fears were immediately put to rest when the officers spoke with her.
Addressing one of them in her letter, Samuel described the thoughtful and measured way the officer handled the very public situation.
"You knelt down and spoke to him in a quiet, calm voice. You offered him a sticker, and you didn’t blink when his response was, 'leave me alone, you bitch!' You just kept speaking to him quietly while he raged," Samuel said.
"Your police car was stopped in the middle of the road, lights flashing, but neither of you were trying to rush us to a resolution."
Eventually, one of the officers restrained the boy for her, gently and carefully, so she could get in touch with her husband and ask him to come help. The officer said she'd had a lot of experience with children with autism.
"It showed," Samuel wrote.
Touched by the interaction, she decided to write a public thank-you to the officers, who have since been identified by their first names, Karma and Jackie. Samuel said she hopes to see them again.
“Those moments of conflict are scary and hard and lonely, and it felt like someone had my back,” she told CTV News. “We got incredibly, incredibly lucky.”
The constables didn't want to be interviewed, but the VPD said it's thankful that Samuel and her family felt supported in their time of need.
"This incident shines a light on some of the great work that our members strive to do every day," spokesman Const. Jason Doucette said in a statement.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's David Molko