According to the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador website and VOCM (the community radio station), the ASNL and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary are going to be cooperating on creating a voluntary autism registry. This is in an effort to prevent the sort of problems that happened when two RNC officers arrested a young man with autism five years ago, believing that he was under the influence, and didn’t let him contact his mother, who would have been able to explain his behaviour. And that kind of thing isn’t unique to Newfoundland – there have been other cases where autistics have been arrested because the police don’t realize that they’re autistic, and one of the things that tend to happen when autistics get stressed (like, say, when confronted by police who are arresting them for something that they haven’t done) is that our expressive language – AKA speech – goes down the drain. Meaning that’s it’s very difficult to tell people that they’re wrong – especially if they won’t listen. And receptive language – AKA understanding of others’ speech – can also go down in stressful situations, which means that anyone who has that happen to them wouldn’t even be able to understand what other people are telling them.
The registry will be a voluntary one, that autistics within the RNC’s jurisdiction can choose to register at, and will involve having their name on a list and getting an ID card so that police will know they are autistic and can react / respond appropriately. And because it’s voluntary, there won’t be any question of being forced to disclose oneself as autistic if one doesn’t want to.
I’m honestly looking forward to seeing where this goes, and if it will work as everyone involved hopes that it will.