Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Sick with Anger

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  • Hilary Stace,

    Unfortunately, there are similar stories on a daily basis. At least now they are reported, mainly in social media, around the world ensuring global collective outrage at some of the stupid things authorities do and say. Ableism now has a name (like sexism and racism), and a methodology to challenge it.

    Having said that, the one time I was in collecitive charge of an autistic child who was not my own who did disappear in a fraction of a second, the police were helpful, both on the phone and appearing almost immediately in person, with no hint of blame. Turns out the boy (who was non verbal) had heard that we were going to the park, as not meaning the park next door, but the one near his house several kilometres away. A kind woman who spotted him heading onto the motorway gently persuaded him into the car and took him to the local police station where they knew all about him.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Is the officer responsible really saying that all parents should constantly watch their children if they live somewhere near a creek?

    It's even stranger when you consider the geography of Auckland - creeks are everywhere! Most people live near at least one creek!

    It's such an odd press release. It's like they're trying to issue a warning, but they haven't actually worked out what the warning needs to be about. And saying CYPFS instead of CYF make it sound about as authoritative as a post on the Trade Me community forums.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Perhaps an apology would be in order.

    More than.
    Dealing with a runaway kid (autistic or not, but for me, mostly the former) is traumatic enough. NZ Police clearly lack basic training – in empathy.
    (Or maybe these officers need some ‘life experience.’ They could try looking after [name redacted] for a few hours each day, with no recourse to cells and handcuffs … )
    RE: Snodgrass case - it's hard to find words that convey the insane politicking and mass casualties from the USA's moronic 'war on drugs'. But great to hear these parents are fighting back.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    It’s such an odd press release.

    Indeed. The reference to "Northcote over the Shore" is quite weird.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here's the message that donors receive from the Snodgrasses:

    We want to send you a personal note of thanks for your generosity in donating to our son's legal fund. We also appreciate your kind comment. You and your family have our best wishes.

    Since his arrest in December, our entire family has endured some very dark times, and it would have been easy for us to become engulfed in cynicism. However, there have been numerous unexpected acts of kindness that have served as reminders that there are very good people in this world who care about what's right.

    Most importantly though, we would like to make sure that you know this: For years, many people in the school district have told our son what's wrong with him, and this has been very hard on him. And when he was arrested, we didn't simply have to get him out of detention, we've faced enormous struggles in just getting him back. But since we've taken this story public, the real victory is that people like you, from all corners of the world have been telling him what is right with him, and he has responded so well to this. In fact, it's been vital to his continuing recovery from the incredible violations that he's suffered.

    We, and our son appreciate you.

    Catherine and Doug Snodgrass

    It has made me cry.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It’s like they’re trying to issue a warning, but they haven’t actually worked out what the warning needs to be about.

    Indeed. I know one autistic child whose escape artistry has meant the family have actually needed to get a GPS tracking ankle bracelet. Ordinary advice just doesn't apply - expecting parents to actually have prison guard levels of vigilance is a bit much. Normal behavior manipulation doesn't work with this boy, or at least it works far, far slower. Last I heard, he'd also worked out how to slip the bracelet too. But he does seem to be doing it less, as they become more experienced at managing him.

    Police seem to have a great deal of trouble acknowledging that autism is real. I guess the law is a hammer, and every difficult kid just looks like a nail.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to BenWilson,

    Police seem to have a great deal of trouble acknowledging that autism is real. I guess the law is a hammer, and every difficult kid just looks like a nail.

    Or a square peg in a round hole, for that matter.

    And not to mention the unsubstantiated rumours that spree shooters like Martin Bryant and Adam Lanza were autistic, when in fact they had unrelated mental disorders. In the case of Bryant, parents of Aspergians were reporting that they were being ostracised in case their kids "grew up to be mass murderers".

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    This story from the editor of the Northern Advocate last week about the bullying of his daughter with special needs has stayed with me. Interestingly, a good cop came to the rescue.

    Re cops, the criminal justice system and autism, Dennis Debbaudt from the US came to the Autism NZ conference last year and shared many of the resources he has developed. Had some horrifying tapes of interviews with young autistic people as criminal justice victims whereby they were manipulated by the interviewer and denied justice by the system.

    There are a few experts in this field of people with autism as victims or (often) unwitting perpetrators of crimes in NZ but no guarantee that people will get such resources when they need them.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The disconnect of US police from 'to protect and serve' just seems to get wider all the time - I read this entrapment case, you have written about, over the weekend and I am in the throes of compiling a polite letter to the US Ambassador here, along the lies of 'sir your country is insane, and not a paragon of anything resembling a decent community' - I know that we probably only hear the worst stories here and many live virtuous positive lives there - but those few stories undermine the rest, and speak of further descent from commonsense.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    A tangent, but this speaks to the War on Drugs and the dangers children face:

    Troubling stories were circulating about the so-called crack babies. They had small heads and were easily agitated and prone to tremors and bad muscle tone, according to reports, many of which were anecdotal. Worse, the babies seemed aloof and avoided eye contact. Some social workers predicted a lost generation - kids with a host of learning and emotional deficits who would overwhelm school systems and not be able to hold a job or form meaningful relationships. The "crack baby" image became symbolic of bad mothering, and some cocaine-using mothers had their babies taken from them or, in a few cases, were arrested.

    It was amid that climate that Hurt organized a study of 224 near-term or full-term babies born at Einstein between 1989 and 1992 - half with mothers who used cocaine during pregnancy and half who were not exposed to the drug in utero. All the babies came from low-income families, and nearly all were African Americans.

    The results were surprising, to say the least. Read the whole story here .
    [thanks to Hilary and Jolisa for the link]

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    In the case of Bryant, parents of Aspergians were reporting that they were being ostracised in case their kids “grew up to be mass murderers”.

    That went down just before Jim was diagnosed. Thank fuck I had the internet by then, and could find my own information.

    It's possible Bryant was autistic, but he had many other severe issues and much of his bheaviour growing up was not at all typical of an AS child.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    The drug story is awful.

    The second story...well. I have a creek, and a 4 year old on the spectrum. One is drawn to the other like a magnet. He likes throwing rocks in it, or paddling across it and climbing up the bank on the other side.

    Onto the back lawn of the local community constable.

    Good thing we're not over the Shore...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Salmon, in reply to Lilith __,

    Interesting study.With those averages they're presumably dealing with other health and substance related factors outside crack. Presumably you'd need a far more comprehensive study to draw a stronger conclusion than 'the impact of poverty on IQ is greater than the impact of crack.' Which of course is an interesting finding in itself and certainly helps reinforce CPAG arguments.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Dan Salmon,

    Presumably you’d need a far more comprehensive study to draw a stronger conclusion than ‘the impact of poverty on IQ is greater than the impact of crack.’

    Yes. They’re now doing a study specifically into the effects of poverty.

    The reason I brought this into the thread is the “War on Drugs” gets such vast funding. Imagine if that amount of money were instead put into alleviating poverty. Imagine if the focus could be on helping children instead of punishing them, along with their parents.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Mark Easterbrook,

    The second story...well. I have a creek, and a 4 year old on the spectrum. One is drawn to the other like a magnet. He likes throwing rocks in it, or paddling across it and climbing up the bank on the other side.

    I'm not Aspergers, but when I was five we used to spend days at a time playing in and around the creek down the back of the gulley. It was normal, it was fun, and as long as we were home by tea-time, it was all good.

    Sometimes I wonder if we're doing the kids today out of a childhood of adventure and exploration, in the hopes of stopping one or two of them having a bad accident.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Stephen R,

    when I was five we used to spend days at a time playing in and around the creek down the back of the gulley. It was normal, it was fun, and as long as we were home by tea-time, it was all good.

    I had a wonderful childhood of making my own adventures and finding my physical limits. As long as I was home for tea and bed, it was all good.
    Sure, there are dangers out there, but there are also many vital life-skills to be gained.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It’s possible Bryant was autistic, but he had many other severe issues and much of his bheaviour growing up was not at all typical of an AS child.

    Namely the fact that Bryant was assessed to have a sub-70 IQ, which is one of the legal definitions of intellectual disability.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    From the article linked to by Lilith

    Coles said her research had found nothing to back up predictions that cocaine-exposed babies were doomed for life. “As a society we say, ‘Cocaine is bad and therefore it must cause damage to babies,’ ” Coles said. "When you have a myth, it tends to linger for a long time."

    We need more of this kind … In many aspects of our lives.
    Cutting thru bullshit is a thankless task

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Stephen R,

    when I was five we used to spend days at a time playing in and around the creek down the back of the gulley.

    We had a lagoon in our back yard, in Palmerston Nth. And our street would flood regularly allowing us to sail our model boats in the road. I grew up fishing for eels in the localk creek ... really how is a kid going to learn how to catch eels if they can't play in the creek?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    As for targetting and arresting that poor child ... it's hard to put the feelings into words.

    I sincerely hope the police get their arses sued. And it's worth noting that in most states senior police positions are elected positions so at least the bosses that allowed this to happen could be removed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Miller,

    Yeah the house my parents bought when they found out they were going to have me is at the end of a 100m or so no exit street that comes off a river road. We used to swim in it as kids, climb the trees on the banks, plus we had a play space under the house, etc. As for disappearing, my mother has a story about getting a phone call from a neighbour asking, "Are you aware that your son is on the roof?" and apparently once I learned to walk she could turn her back for a moment and suddenly I'd be outside playing with a tap. I have four siblings and there's a ten year spread between us, even with mum not working until we were all in high school there's no way she could have watched all of us all the time.

    Otautahi, Aotearoa • Since Nov 2011 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    As for targetting and arresting that poor child … it’s hard to put the feelings into words.

    I sincerely hope the police get their arses sued.

    +a million.
    I got no words for people who could do a thing like that. Beyond belief.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    really how is a kid going to learn how to catch eels if they can’t play in the creek?

    As soon as we could swim competently, we were allowed anywhere - Avon River, Moeraki reefs, the kaik' creeks- and- as Lillith wrote "long as were home for tea & bed" the adults let us run loose-

    My mother had 6 of us under the age of 11 when my father died -so it was the only pratical *and* responsible thing to do. Her brothers taught us fishing & hunting, and none of us came to serious grief-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    special needs

    I'll be happy when people stop using that phrase

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    There was a creek down the back of our intermediate school, as I recall, and we all went there to play during breaks and lunch time.

    If the teachers were concerned, they never let on.

    Police entrapment is such a mind-fuck I can’t begin to understand the mental processes that go into making it seem like a good idea. Sting operations targeting children on the spectrum actually seem like a crime against humanity. I can only wish the family well, and make a small contribution as you did RB.

    Watching the videos in the link, the retired Deputy Chief of Police, Stephen Downing, seems to have his head screwed on right.

    Interestingly he turns up in other places supporting decriminalization. This from Rolling Stone.

    "When we ended the prohibition of alcohol, Al Capone was out of work the next day,” says Stephen Downing, Los Angeles’ former Deputy Chief of Police. “Our drug policy is really anti-public safety and pro-cartel, pro-street gang, because it keeps them in business."

    It would be nice to think we could move past turning innocent people into criminals, which was so clearly the case here, and focus on the more serious harms in society, like poverty.

    Sigh.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

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