A few weeks ago I had a row over the phone with my (then) boyfriend which culminated in my sending him some texts that in retrospect I realise I shouldn't have sent. He phoned the police claiming to be concerned about my well-being. I was quite upset about the row but had been working on calming myself down when the police suddenly turned up at my house and started talking about sectioning me or taking me to A&E which of course freaked me out and made me get upset all over again. It took me about an hour and a half before I could finally convince them to leave.
I explained that I was autistic and that I just needed to be alone and have some space and quiet and I would be fine, but of course, I am not qualified to speak on my own behalf because everybody in the world knows what is best for me and what I think doesn't matter...
Does anybody have any advice for future situations when I know that I am having a meltdown and I just need to be left alone as to how to get people (whether the police or any other "well-meaning" individuals) to believe what I am saying and leave me alone and stop "trying to help"?
You can get some "this person has autism" cards from the NAS.
I think they call them "autism alert cards". The idea is that you can hand them out to people when you need to, which saves having to walk everywhere with a sign around your neck, or indeed having to try to explain when all you want to do is shut everything out.
Yeah, I saw those in the NAS shop, but one of the things it says on the card is, "Please help by being understanding, patient and tolerant," and I'm willing to bet that these police officers thought they were doing those things... It doesn't say anything on the card about leaving me alone to stop my meltdown getting worse... I think NT people would interpret being understanding, patient, and tolerant as needing to continue to talk to me...
Give them the card and insist that they don’t speak to you without an appropriate adult and insist they leave. Get the card from NAS but also put a note with it that says you must have an appropriate adult with you if they wish to speak to you. It might also be handy to have a print out to some basic information about melt downs or something that you can also hand to them. It needs to be made clear to them that they’re exacerbating the situation and that you will speak to them when you’ve calmed down and you have an appropriate adult with you. They may not understand but that’s not our problem. If you give them the information they have no excuse not to leave you alone and if the situation calls for it, they must do what they can to not make the situation worse and to approach you in an appropriate manner. It’s not a criminal act to be autistic, you’re not trying to obstruct the law, but just like they would not be able to get you to walk if you had broken legs or something, they can’t get you to behave how they want you to.
I would also recommend getting an Autism Alert card. I have one but, fortunately, have not had a need to use it with the police.
My local autistic trust has produced a similar card, with the support of the county police, and I also have one of those. Perhaps you have a local autistic trust that does something similar.
Can anyone please provide a direct link as to where you get an Autism Alert Card?
My Local Council used to offer the scheme, but the website is seemingly shut-down and the scheme disbanded. So, if I can get one from NAS that would be great - I just can't seem to find it!
It’s on the main NAS site in the ‘shop’ area. I’ll see if I can get a link.