Facebook user Kah Ying Choo has recounted in her Facebook about how the police arrested her 20-year-old son, Sebastien, who is autistic. Being autistic, one of Sebastien’s obsession is that of fiddling with handles of car doors. A couple who noticed him doing this at a carpark thought he was a car thief and called the police on him.
The police arrived soon after and approached him to talk to him, but Sebastien moved away. That was when they grabbed him and Sebastien reacted aggressively. The police soon handcuffed and put him in a police care. Upon noticing a sign in Sebastien’s bag about his disability and contact numbers, the police called Kah to inform her about her son being detained.
“Given the fact that Sebastien had not committed any crime, the police’s decision to grab him was completely out of line,” said Kah.
“In my exchange with them (on the phone), they told me that they could not tell that he had special needs until they saw the sign about his autism on the outside of his MRT card bag with my phone number on it,” she added.
Given that most members of the public could easily tell that Sebastien has a disability, Kah said that she was surprised that the policemen could not see that. Kah said that the policemen who detained Sebastien are “nice and apologetic”, but she feared that the policemen’s poor judgment could have unnecessarily escalated the situation. Sebastien could have exploded aggressively when the police tried to arrest him out of fear and stress, she said.
“I knew we got lucky that no one got hurt, but I shudder to know when our luck would run out,” Kah said.
Kah contrasted the actions of the couple who called the police on her son with the actions of some foreign workers. The foreign workers were more understanding of Sebastien’s disability and went out of their way to accommodate his obsessive behaviours, she said.
Kah ended her post on a thoughtful note and asked:
“When you witness this odd spectacle of a tall, gangly young man hopping up and down in front of a side view mirror of a truck, you have a choice.
You can either choose to observe and then understand, smile, and relax because it is more entertaining than threatening. This is what the foreign workers do.
Or you can react mindlessly in fear and call the police. This is what the Singaporean couple who reported Sebastien to the police when he touched car doors chose to do…
What would you do?”
Kah’s picture of her son’s hand in Facebook showed a lingering redness around his wrist caused by being handcuffed.
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