Autistic Boy Arrested for Walking

Filed Under (Activism, Discrimination) by Estee on 23-04-2009

Dane Spurrell, an autistic fifiteen year old, is arrested for walking out from a video store. Apparently, because his gait was different, the police officer thought he was intoxicated. Despite pleadings from the mother that Dane is autistic, the boy was incarcerated overnight.

“It was an honest mistake,” the police insist.

No, it’s not honest but indeed it is a mistake. Mom wants an apology, and this is what she gets in return. This is flat-out discrimination. Think about it: because someone walks with a limp, they are deemed to be drunk. They are not accepted for being autistic, after the mother pleads with police.

I think about all the news stories I read every month on a boy being kicked out of class for acting autistic, for being who they are; all the arrests.

There is a reason to galvanize. Yet, I’m perplexed how the autistic community can’t get past individual differences to protest what is clearly wrong.

I know many of us will be blogging about this today, and we should. Autistics have to face this every day. We parents who love our children have to go out and educate others every day as well. Be it in hospitals, schools, programs and even with the police, our work is never done.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.