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‘Very traumatized’: Father wants change after autistic son encounters police

After hearing police sirens past his home in Mississauga, Ontario last week, Majid Darwich instinctively went upstairs to see if his mute, autistic son was still in his room. I ran up.

His 19 year old wasn’t there.

As soon as Darwich saw the front door left open, he knew his son might have left home and was in trouble.

Mr. Darwich jumped into the car at once, but after passing a few houses he came upon a terrifying sight.

Hi, my son Abdullah Darwich was lying on the ground wearing nothing but shorts and police handcuffs. Darwich said about a dozen Peel area police officers stood around the teenage boy.

“This is a sick boy,” he recalled shouting at the police. “what are you doing?”

“I felt like I was going to have a heart attack,” he said. “I tried to reach out to him, but they couldn’t even let me hold him.”

Peel local police said they used a stun gun on Abdullah Darwich after responding to reports of “suspicious individuals” allegedly undressing and trying to break into cars and homes. He said he was unable to communicate clearly with the youth of the country.

Majid Darwich said his son had to be treated in hospital for injuries including bruises on his body and cuts on his face after he ran into police last Friday.

Darwich said she’s been talking about what happened to her son because she wants to change the way police work with people with autism.

“Children with autism are part of our community and have the right to live in a peaceful (perfect) environment,” he said. It’s not fair that we can’t let them.”

Peel Police said Abdullah Darwich did not respond to them when they arrived at the scene.

“At the time of the incident, the individual’s identity and condition were unknown to officers,” police wrote in a statement.

“The individual was arrested and taken to a hospital for medical treatment and assistance after using a conductive energy weapon.”

Police added that officers from a unit that links residents to community resources later visited the Darwich home to “provide assistance.”

Majid Darwich speculated that his son had slipped out of the house in shorts around 6 p.m. that day and tried to get into a neighbor’s car for warmth.

He said he added his son to the Peel Police Vulnerable Registry to prevent such confrontations with law enforcement. Police did not answer questions about whether the system was used at the time.

His son is now physically recovering, but his mental state remains fragile.

“When he sees a stranger, he starts screaming, runs to his room and puts a blanket over his head,” Darwich said of his son. “He’s very traumatized right now.”

Autism Canada said what happened to the Darwich family was preventable.

“Events like this are happening across Canada, highlighting the importance of mandatory training for all first responders when dealing with people with autism,” the organization wrote.

“Equally important, if our neighbors everywhere had been educated about autism, had been exposed to a broader view of the autistic experience, and embraced all differences, none of this would have happened. It means it is possible.”

The Darwich family situation is not an isolated one.

In Alberta, the state’s Critical Incident Response Team is investigating the arrest of an autistic teen by the St. Abert RCMP. Police said he had received a report on October 2 about a “young man” in Edmonton who was “severely handicapped” or “may be using drugs.”

Eric Lamming, an assistant professor of criminology at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, explains how many police services are currently doing in situations involving people with mental health problems, neurodevelopmental disorders, and autism. However, “there is no statewide order requiring officers to complete additional training in these areas,” he said.

Laming said the limited information available makes it difficult to fully analyze what happened, but it appears Peel police could have handled the matter differently. rice field.

“It appears that the use of force could have been prevented with proper de-escalation and situational awareness strategies,” he said.

“Abdullah’s injuries are certainly troubling and highlight serious concerns in interactions between police and community members with developmental disabilities.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on November 11, 2022.

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‘Very traumatized’: Father wants change after autistic son encounters police

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