Another Layer of Autism Awareness
Today we Light it up Blue to shine a light on autism. Ironically, I don’t recall ever having felt so blue.
As you know by now my son, Drew, has autism. He is in prison for a conviction that he has maintained from the very start (March of 2012) that he is innocent of. He passed a polygraph test 100% no deception. This test was required by The Commonwealth of Virginia AFTER his conviction. He had begged for a polygraph when he was arrested.
The various blog posts provided here show why he wanted a polygraph, why he insisted upon his innocence. My opinion is one thing. The excerpts from the actual courtroom transcripts provided in my blog highlight the injustice.
Over the past week I’ve listened to my son beg me to get him out of prison. He described walking into the prison on the first day, entering a room that was more chaotic than a high school cafeteria, with people shouting and yelling at each other. But, these people weren’t high school kids.
Much to the surprise of the prison staff Drew requested to be put in segregation. He doesn’t like being isolated 24 hours a day, only allowed out of his cell 3 times a week to shower. But, he told me he just can’t take all the chaos, bright lighting, loud noises and constant confusion that he first entered into.
So, as we light it up blue to bring awareness to autism let’s remember to bring our awareness to those on the autism spectrum who are incarcerated for having autism. Yes. For having autism. If you don’t know the statistics I encourage you to Goggle it. If you really care about turning the blue light on then be willing to look at the ugliness of what can happen when a person’s autistic behaviors are misunderstood as criminal. By definition impairments in communications skills are a part of autism.
For example, the judge in my son’s case decided to look past many facts that went beyond reasonable doubt. He elected to convict based on the credibility of the woman and my son. He believed her. He then went on to cite a number of reasons why he questioned Drew’s testimony, in essence using characteristics of autism spectrum disorder to convict him. For a judge to convict based upon relative credibility it is only fair that he understands how autism affects communication skills. If the judge does not have this knowledge he or she must listen with an open mind as the experts clarify these characteristics. He did not.
As a mom I have been pleased to see awareness brought to the issue that autism isn’t just about children. The children grow up and still have autism. As Drew’s mom I want to use our family’s experience to bring awareness to how easy it is to get caught up in the criminal justice system because of behaviors that are misunderstood from first responders all the way up to judges. Much training is needed here. If people squirm about how much that training is going to cost, compare that to how much it costs to prosecute and incarcerate. And, that’s just the financial cost.
What price would you put on the trauma caused to your child?