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Letter: Autism responses often misunderstood


Handcuffs. Credit: iStock

I applaud former Chief Judge Sol Wachtler for his op-ed, "We must stop criminalizing autism" [Opinion, March 3].

Autism is a developmental disability that can be misunderstood or misread as mental illness, in ordinary moments or in times of crisis. Better understanding of this disability by law enforcement is necessary to protect and serve a vulnerable population. This simply can't happen fast enough.

Individuals with autism are often misunderstood or misread. They often are verbally limited and don't make eye contact. Empowering police officers and others with a better understanding would help lift the veil of mystery that surrounds these people.

Bea Huste-Petersen, East Islip

Editor's note: The writer is the founder of EJ Autism Foundation, an education and fundraising organization.