Mother Posts Sign on House to Protect Autistic Son from Police

This story is almost three years old. I just learned of it today.

I saw the photo above on Facebook. And I instantly felt ill. Sick to my stomach. Because I knew.

This is the reality for so many parents in my world.

This is my greatest fear. And I know say that a lot. I worry about who will care for Cooper after I am gone. Who will keep him safe.

But in the now, in the day-to-day, I worry about protecting him from the world.

He is nonverbal. He is loud. He is a runner. He doesn’t understand simple commands. He doesn’t know how to drop something or stop.

What if something happens in public and I can’t protect him? What if he is misunderstood?

What if they take him from me? What if they won’t listen to me?

The story goes…

Mother, Judy McKim, painted the words, ‘Autistic Man Lives Here Cops No Excuse’ on the garage of her home.

There are dozens of other signs on her property that read like warnings for the police.

‘Attention! An autistic man lives here. He does not know what a cop is or what a gun is. He makes loud noises. He will not hurt U! He does not understand commands!! Oh yes: He is black too.’

I want you to read that again. And again. And again.

And know that this is very real. And a very real reality for severe autism.

McKim says, ‘I wanted to make sure that they knew everything. That he is still in diapers, doesn’t understand words, doesn’t understand what a gun is.’

She posted these signs after her severely autistic son, Zachary, was assaulted by police.

According to the report, a neighbor called 911 after witnessing the son, identified only as Zachary, 28, in an apparent “rage” outside of his home in Henderson, a suburb 15 miles outside of Las Vegas. When police arrived, they reportedly attempted to restrain him.

McKim doesn’t want it to happen again. So she posted the signs.

When questioned she said, ‘I don’t like doing this. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed that everyone know, I’m embarrassed that I’m on TV. I’m embarrassed that you guys are seeing my life, but that’s reality.’

She said she hopes her story will now help other autistic families.

If you’ve never had to worry about your adult child being misunderstood by the police, consider yourself lucky. Because the fear is very real for parents that do.

My advice…reach out to your local police departments. Invite an officer into your home. Introduce them to your child.

Have a conversation about autism and your child. Ask them how they work with individuals that are autistic. Offer to help them learn. Even teach them.

Because trust me when I say, you want them to know your child’s face. Do it today.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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