Every year, numerous children receive an autism diagnosis. It is a neurological disorder that causes them to view the world differently. It also causes them to not fully understand their actions or what is or isn’t appropriate behavior. With an increase in autism cases, there has also been a rise in the number of juvenile offenders with the disorder. Unfortunately, the system does little to help or understand these offenders.
Parents in Washington who have children with autism deal with a lot. It is stressful and anxiety-inducing. If your autistic child ends up on the wrong side of the law, even due to a simple misunderstanding, you have every right to worry about how they will handle it and how the system will treat them.
Most common offenses
While an autistic child can face a charge for just about anything, one specialist on the subject says that there are a few accusations they more commonly experience. Those accusations include:
- Computer-related sex crimes
Why these particular offenses? Autistic individuals are overly curious. They struggle to manage emotional responses, and they often have a lack of empathy. These are typical behaviors seen with this disorder, but those not familiar with it may not know or recognize these behaviors as being related to a neurological condition.
There are several things you, as a parent, can do to help your child stay on the right side of the law. You can:
- Encourage the asking of questions
- Monitor computer usage
- Stay connected to your child
- Teach regulation of emotions
- Recognize red flags
As far as the system goes, the best thing law enforcement, legal counsel and judges can do to prepare themselves for when they come across an autistic juvenile offender is attend training on the subject. If they know what to look for, and understand how these children think, they will be better able to get them the help they need as well as consider more appropriate punishment — if required.
Don’t go up against the system alone
If you have an autistic child who finds themself in trouble with the law, don’t go up against the system on your own. While the goal with juvenile offenders is to rehabilitate rather than punish, having an offense on your child’s record can still do some damage both in the short and long term. With the right assistance, you can resolve the matter as quickly as possible in a way that makes the most sense with everything your child is already going through.