Another sad reminder in the news, that caregivers of people with disabilities cannot presume that authority personnel will listen to or understand the caregiver’s guidance on how best to deal with a person’s disabilities.
This sad story (linked below) involved a teenager who is described as having paralysis, being partially deaf and blind, and subject to cognitive confusion. When she didn’t understand that TSA wanted to scan her again, they grabbed her, she resisted — and they smashed her face as they threw her to the ground, and then arrested her for non-compliance. All the while her horrified Mother was trying to explain to the authorities that her daughter didn’t understand what was being asked of her. Instead of hearing the Mom, the police held her back during the incident.
We routinely see stories like this in the news, I wrote about one some time back involving the death of a young man with Downs Syndrome in front of his care worker at the hands of two movie security guards — all because he wanted to see a movie again and didn’t understand why they were insisting he leave. Things escalated quickly despite the caregiver trying to tell the guards how to calm everything down.
Caregivers for people who may not understand or quickly comply when given orders need a very clear action plan in place for potential conflicts with authority figures. We should assume that they will not be as open to our guidance as we might imagine, and we need to be well rehearsed in case of a confrontation. I am not in anyway blaming this Mother, but perhaps had she alerted some of the TSA workers to her daughter’s issues before they got into the security line, the workers would have been more open to hearing the Mom when they encountered some non-compliance from the daughter.
It is a good idea to have a well-thought out plan, perhaps even something in writing, to give guidance when necessary. Events like these are a caregiver’s worst nightmare.