Ignorance. This is going to get a bit more personal than I like to on this site. I have a bachelors degree in psychology, a master's in developmental (kids) psychology and have spent over 20 years working in mental health - mostly helping kids. My wife is a school psychologists and an expert in Autism in the school district. We also have a daughter with autism and with all of that experience and all of that education - its one of the hardest things we've had to do.
Autism is a continuum. So just because you know someone who knows someone with autism, doesn't mean anything. But let me paint you a picture on some of the struggles. Stop for a minute and listen to every sound in your room. TV on, people talking, air conditioner, someone fixing food in the kitchen, pet scractching. Feel every sensation. The chair you sit in, hunger, cool wind of a fan, tight shorts, scruffy tag at your neck- now imagine the inability to focus or tune out any of those and getting them all at one time.
That's one experience. It can create verbal delays. This means that the child (and we're talking about children) not only can't tell you if they are hungry, have to go to the bathroom, tv is too loud, stomach is upset- they don't have words for it. Imagine for a second- the anxiety and frustration of an individual who can't tell you what they want or need. Imagine for a minute that the sensations are so intermixed that they don't know what they need.
Typical behavior modification doesn't work. You can't ground the child. You can't take away something. They don't know why. Spankings don't work- as they don't feel it the same way and usually only escalates things.
Then realize- there are not books that really explain it. There are no magical "places" for these kids. This is hard. My daughter isn't this extreme all the time. She has moments in her development where we've experienced different pieces. . She is also young enough that if she gets overwhelmed with sensory input and starts wanting to explode with frustration- I have been able to hold her tight and get her some place quiet and calm. We also are in the mental health field and understand medications that have taken her edge off without making her a zombie so that she can go to the zoo without being overwhelmed by sensations. Her verbal skills have dramatically improved and she is reading.
I have friends and colleagues that have had this experience with their kids and the kid just gets motivated by high school and still goes to college. But many parents have their children grow up with no such options.
There are no programs, no residential programs that can do better than a parent's love in their house- if at all possible. I know. I've run them. Even kids that are doing great can have melt downs or episodes. They can run out of the house or hit out in wild frustration and pain. But understand- they do it all out of pain.
Parenting children with autism can be very very hard. I dont know many other parents who have had come home from festivals or halloween thinking things went great- to have to comfort their child and hold her tight afterwards as they cry and scream- bc the whole time she was holding it in while in public. She was holding in the anxiety. She was holding in the pain and discomfort.
Now I am heavily trained and experienced in this- my wife more so. I know to ignore the behavior and look for the symptoms. We understand medications and how to start small, test and watch mood and behavior as we increase it. We know what type of docter/partnership we need. We know how maximize the school resources and laws. And we have struggled. Now- we're in a much much better place. But anyone who judges the parenting of the another child with autism - is simply an ignorant fool.
I don't know that parent. I don't know if they could have handled it differently. What I do know is that asked of help for a child that was not deadly violent and in dong so that help killed their child. I can't imagine what I would do or be feeling. But that those law enforcement officers did not protect and did not serve. They failed and that's something everyone should be able to easily agree on.