With Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia attacking victims' short-term memory, there are many instances where drastic situations could occur. A personal example is a gentleman with whom I had built a relationship in my county who was a WWII Navy veteran. He suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and had lost his memory to the point where he thought it was 1940. Occasionally, he would put on his Navy uniform and walk down the road. Whenever he was located, his explanation would be that he was on the way to Norfolk shipyard to be deployed overseas. In his mind, he was going to war. With that mindset, I can only imagine what could happen if the responding public safety officer was Asian, or had a German or Russian accent. A simple situation could turn drastic depending on his response. Likewise, consider this same war veteran being escorted into an emergency room. With the wide variety of ethnic backgrounds of those working in our communities, there is no telling what this man believed he was walking into. He may believe he was being escorted into a POW camp. This could easily turn into a risk management nightmare.
While the Autism population is growing drastically, most people do not realize how many of the behaviors related to Autism are sensory driven. The five senses, as well as internal senses, are affected to varying degrees. Over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity may cause different responses or reactions from a person. If a person is sensitive to bright lights or loud sounds, how will they react during an encounter with a police officer, or while receiving medical attention in an emergency room? A simple light touch may feel like razor blades cutting through the skin to a person with Autism. These issues need to be taken into consideration to govern our actions. These behaviors, and the reasons for these behaviors, needs to be understood. A Better Understanding of the behaviors of Autism will allow for a more favorable outcome during an encounter with someone on the Autism Spectrum.