July 2017: in the upscale neighborhood of Verrado in Buckeye, Arizona, teenager Connor Leibel was left to play in one of his favorite parks while his caretaker, Ms. Diane Craglow, ran a quick errand nearby. When Ms. Craglow returned, she was horrified to find Connor screaming, pinned to the ground while being detained by a frustrated police officer, David Grossman. Connor had done nothing wrong.
Though Grossman certified drug recognition expert, he mistook Connor’s stimming -- an autistic individual’s repetitive movements used as a way to cope with mounting anxiety in stressful situations -- for signs of drug intoxication, launching Connor’s average day at the park into a dramatic scene as eight other officers appeared as Grossman’s backup.
A year earlier, in Miami, Florida, a similar situation arose as an autistic man named Arnaldo Rios left his group home to play with a shiny toy truck in the street. After a while, he found himself opposite an unaware officer’s gun barrel after a bystander had reported sight of an “armed and suicidal man”. Another officer with no recognition of autistic tendencies and impulsive behavior on the job, the officer fired at Rios, narrowly missing him but instead injuring Rios’ behavioral therapist, a man named Charles Kinsey, who was trying to calm him down (both survived).
NOTE: to watch a brief video in which an autistic boy explains autism, mouse over the timestamp in the video above and scroll to the yellow line. These two videos were combined into one using the ThingLink tool.
How can I use this event in class?
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.