Almost called the police of my son

Almost called the police of my son

Gavin had a huge tantrum tonight because he didn’t listen and ripped something out of Emmett’s hands. 

It got pretty ugly and the boys were hiding in Elliott’s room while I managed Gavin in the living room.

While he wasn’t aggressive towards anyone but himself he was extremely loud and disruptive. It got so bad that we took his stuffed animal, after repeatedly warning him. That really set him off.

It was at this point that I threatened to call the police. This was not an empty threat either.

This would be an absolute last resort because Elliott and Emmett would be completely freaked out by that, possibly more than they were by the tantrum itself.

Gavin kept screaming not my teddy, not my teddy. I was like, how about not the police, not the police?

His response was yeah, I don’t want that either.

Either he doesn’t think we will actually call or he doesn’t care. I’m not sure which. Either way, I got him upstairs to his room and he started to lose it again. I reminded him that if this continues, I will call the police, and it will not be pleasant for him.

It wasn’t an empty threat, as I was prepared to follow through. I didn’t want to do that though because I don’t know how it would impacted the younger kids, to see the police come and take Gavin away.

Lizze and I both were very concerned about that.

In the end, we got him to his room and contained him. The boys were okay and distracted by the TV.

Did we handle this right? I don’t have the answer to that. However, sometimes we can only do what we can do. The idea of have the police involved and the drama that would have caused, seemed worse than what we were dealing with.

As I said, I was prepared to follow through but grateful it wasn’t necessary.  

This was posted via WordPress for Android, courtesy of Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Please forgive any typos. I do know how to spell but auto-correct hate me.

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I would recommend reading this before being quick to call the police the next time.


 @nicolepederson Nicole–You sound like you are at the end of your wits in dealing with your son.  There are steps to take at this point.  Does he have a diagnosis?  If not, make an appointment with your Ped.  If he does, you need to connect with mental health supports.   You need to call your city or county mental health board and get immediate referrals to services.  Is your son on a disability waiver through the state?  Most states have started using autism waivers to cover extra care for your son and to give you the additional help you need to get through each day.  In Virginia, they will pay just over minimum wage for someone to come in and do household chores or run errands for you.  It can also be used to pay for respite care so you can have some time to yourself.  
It sounds like it could even be dangerous for the baby to even be around when your older child is tantrumming.  Is there someone who is there with you while you work with the older boy–getting him ready for school, etc. to keep an eye on the baby and keep him out of harm's way?  You are going through a lot!  Let me know if you want more specifics according to the state you live in.


I have been having the same problem. My child is 5 i wasnt goignt o call the police but i did call the crisis center in my area. Its been goign on for three weeks and I can not gain control whats so ever. He does nothing he needs to do with out total chaose including screaming hitting kicking spitting and scarring his baby brother. I dont know where else to go for help or for anyone to losten and understand what i'm goign through


 @lostandtired @Bill Numan {I come to this dance with work experience on both sides of the EMS system–police and paramedic.}  
Bill, you are correct about calling the proper emergency services for specific situations; however, when a person (with mental health problems and a known history of assaulting others or causing harm to himself) is out of control, the proper call is to 911 for police assistance.  EMTs and paramedics are not equipped in many locales to handle violent/dangerous individuals and when they encounter them, the SOP is to call for police backup.  I have had to call for police assistance with my younger daughter when she was in the midst of a major meltdown (hurting herself, trying to get knives to cut herself or others, punching, kicking, etc.).  It took 2 men to hold her down until the officer arrived.  The deputy coming was enough that she was able to calm down enough to agree to go to the hospital in our car instead of handcuffed in the police car. She spent a week in an inpatient unit for teens at the local hospital and came home on new meds and with something of a new attitude.  With sn kids, we are sometimes flying by the seat of our pants, but almost all mental health professionals tell parents to call 911 when a situation arises like this.  All police departments should have mandatory training about dealing with individuals on the spectrum.
That said–Rob–I think that you may have jumped the gun with throwing the police threat onto the table.  Gavin is more likely to respond the way you want to high value items or activities (like the teddy or oatmeal for supper).  The threat of having oatmeal for dinner while the rest of the family has take-out is fairly high in value to him, as is the teddy.  The overuse of the police is like the boy who cried wolf too often—a threat to call the police should only come after exhausting all other options and after attempts are made to calm the situation using other methods.  Otherwise, saying I am going to call the police loses any meaning and hold no value for the child.  Just keep in mind that safety for family members takes precedence over any other considerations and if he is harming one or more of the family members, then that is time for a visit from the local police.  I would get in touch with the police department and make sure they have had training on handling children with mental health problems, as well as autism.

Bill Numan

Sorry you didn't like my delivery, but not everything needs to be candy coated.

The bottom line is the same: The police exist for emergencies…not parenting assistance. If you have a teenager (i.e. large, strong child) that is totally out of control and you as the parent cannot physically control them, then by all means call 911. I'm sure the local cops will respond and do what they have to do (i.e. involuntary committal), although in my experience parents regret this as they're watching their child being wrestled into handcuffs.

If your child is out of control and yourself are able to physically restrain or stop the behavior, why in the world would you want the police to come to your house and put their hands on your them?!? If the cops get there and see a full blown meltdown, you run the risk of your child being injured when they try to subdue/handcuff him.

Also, keep in mind that If gavin hits, kicks, or throws something and hits another family member and you call 9-1-1, he most likely WILL be arrested as a juvenile for domestic violence, even if the other party isn't hurt. Most agencies have "must arrest" policies regarding domestic violence…even for harassment.

What I'm trying to say is be super cautious when calling 911, because you run the risk of opening Pandora's box and setting events into motion that you will not be able to stop or control.

OK…I'll jump off my soapbox now :^)


@Bill Numan thank you for the the more detailed explanation 🙂


I reaffirm my belief that you did the best with what resources you had on hand & in mind at this entire situation. I agree with a lot of what Bill Numan did say, but I DO NOT agree with the manner in which he decided to tactlessly give it. While police may not be the BEST call to make, a lot of parents of children with SN's like ours don't have every single resource available to them.
Rob, If you haven't already done this, I would like to suggest calling around & finding out what go-to service you would utilize in WORST CASE SCENARIO. Find out what agency you would call, if they did house calls, or if you'd have to restrain your son & take him yourself. Find out their methods, treatments, how long a stay would consist of if needed, would they work with your current experts/doctors, etc. Then have the address & phone number either on speed, or favorite it in your phone with all information in the contact file. Even print it out & post it with a picture of the facility. Take your son there on a mediocre or good day, show him around, tell him what that place is there for. Maybe even make a chart of Happy Faces to Sad Faces to Angry Faces (etc) to show his mood changes (either with drawings or pictures of your son in his different stages of rage/fits) & the consequences that will follow with those mood changes. At the angriest or most aggressive picture, have the information of the facility under/above it so that he has a picture, a tangible piece of evidence, that if he gets to that point that is where he will go whether they come get him or he is taken by yourself or your wife.
This way, you won't be threatening him with the police which while is a good place to start is not the BEST service to turn to because of how limited they are. When he starts his fits & aggression (to himself OR to others), you can have him look at the chart, point it out to him, & have him visually see what will come if he continues. If this takes leaving him to calm himself (if that even happens) until you can explain to him to his comprehension, or even just holding him until his fight is up, then so be it. (I am aware that not everyone agrees in using those methods & sometimes it doesn't even work, but I have found with my daughter that sometimes she really just needs that. Obviously, it doesn't work all the time.) So instead of reverting to police, etc, you WILL be reverting to help that will aid both your family & the special needs.
I still back you up in what you wrote here, despite preferring other agencies being threatened with or called, because it's what we're told, it's what we think: the police are there to protect & serve. If not the police to help us then who else? You are simply trying to be the best dad in the best way that you know how to, & should be applauded for that. The fact that you are open to other suggestions, other feedback, & that you value your family's safety & your son's physical & mental well being shows that you are willing & that you go above & beyond what you are expected. As for that Bill Numan Cop, well, there's a difference in being blunt & having TACT. There's a difference between being rude/assumptive & giving sound advice/making you aware. I have a huge issue in the way he responded, there were so many other ways to get his point across.


Bill Numan's comment was blunt, for sure, but  I agree with a lot of the posters here:  to call the police for non-violent behavior escalates the confrontation and in the end, will work against you.   (I know what I'm talking about; I was raised with a mentally ill sib)
Are you in contact with a support group for parents of the mentally ill?  I know you have the large autism community and their valuable contributions, but from your posts, Gavin has some very serious mental illness(es), and you may get good guidance from others in your same situation.  
I hate to see you embittering your and Lizze's lives and having your younger kids traumatized when you might get some good advice or coaching that would change the course of some of these very damaging confrontations.   
Good luck.  You are working hard for other people's welfare, which is so hard to do.  Everyone is rooting for you.  


nice to see you again. I totally agree with what he said,at least for the most part.

I would never suggest calling the police in a situation that it would be of benefit. In Gavin's case, while he wasn't attacking anyone, he was incredibly violent to himself and the things around him.

I don't know of Gavin would benefit from a cop talking to him. However, the very next time he goes after someone, I won't hesitate to call the police and have him taken to Aultman Hospital.

The message should be not to abuse the police but not to be afraid to call at the same time.


Typo. I would never suggest calling the police if it would not be of any benefit.


@whynotfathers @reality_autism I have had to call police many times to get my son under control after a tantrum!! Exhausts me


I also called the police on my son when he attacked me, after his medication wore off. I asked them nicely to talk with him, and the cop did, and actually gave me some good advice. I now would resort to calling a crisis line or taking him to an in-patient facility, which I think is a better option, now that I know better. You just never know what type of cop will be coming your way if you do call the police. I have encountered some pretty bad ones in my time, as well.


I have had to call the police because of my son. They came and asked me what had happened and then Spoke with him about how his meltdowns affect others then let him know that while he lives under my roof and being supported by me that he must respect my rules. They did not take him anywhere, but having a uniformed officer speak to him firmly helped a lot. I also tried to speak with local patrol to explain that my son has Aspergers, since they were supposedly trained on how to handle a person with any form of Autism, but they were not interested.  I hope that the police force in your area is better trained and more receptive. If there is a regular patrol officer in your area, it would probably make sense for you to speak with him as Gavin gets older, so that if there is ever any interaction, the officers are aware of his behavior is not always indicative of guilt but that lack of eye contact or other mannerism is just his way.

Bill Numan

As a police officer who has been on the receiving end of these type of 911 calls, I can tell you first hand that we are very limited in what we're going to do with a 13 year old.

It sound great… Call the police and they'll take care of your problems. The truth is: a 13 year old child is your responsibility, not ours. He's a child…not an out of control adult (which would be a suitable use of our resources). Its your job as a parent to control him.

You don't like to spank or use physical force on your kids, but are willing to call the police when he's out of control? What exactly do you think they are going to do if you have your way and he's going to be involuntarily committed?

It sound like you should do more hands on parenting and less threats involving the police. The first time you call them and they come and go without giving you the satisfaction you're looking for is going to create more problems with your son.

I'm surprised at you. In all your years working on a rig, how many involuntary committal's of pre teens did you do?


@Bill Numan that was kinda harsh. It's not about satisfaction its about helping to keep my family safe.

I have several friends on the force and they would be more than happy to stop by and help to send a message.

Perhaps you have no experience dealing with a violent and mentally disturbed teenager.

As a paramedic, I never took kids in for involuntary commitment. Not typically something a medic would do.

I appreciate you sharing your opinion and I would never advocate abusing the police. However, my situation and the situation of many other special needs parents is far and away from your typical situations are the exception to the rule.


@Bill Numan what would you suggest outside of physical violence, to parents with violent special needs kids? I understand where your coming from but you need to understand thatwe are instructed to call rhw police when the safety and well being of people in the house is threatened by a violent child.

Instead of telling is what not to do, can you point is in the right direction?


 @lostandtired  @Bill I would be interested in knowing this as well.  Sometimes my son gets so violent and out of control that we have the kids lock themselves in their upstairs area for safety.  I can put Marc in the hospital but the longest that they keep him is 72 hours.  We are working on a placement in a residential facility, but even that takes time. 

Bill Numan

As with everything else you are going through, there are no easy answers. I can tell you that using the "big bad police" as a threat is going to have a limited shelf life. The first time the cops come and fail to "scare" Gavin is going to make your situation much worse. He'll then have a feeling on invincibility toward the police, which is gonna be far worse than what you're dealing with. keep the police threat in your pocket for the horrendously bad stuff (like the sexually aggressive stuff).

The bottom line is that unless he's being physically abusive to others or totally destructive to the house, its just not a police issue….its a parenting one.

And i'll revert to an issue in my original post re physical discipline. I was never spanked as a child, and have never spanked my kids. With that said, there is a reason that the law allows us legally use "physical f in disciplining and controlling our children… Some kids need that style of control.


@Bill Numan I think special needs kids are a bit different. Spanking Gavin would have absolutely no effect on him. Something else to remember is that when using physical force, leaves very little room for progression. The only place to go from there is increased physical force and that's a very slippery slope.

I appreciate your feedback and suggestions. I meant no disrespect by my questioning of your comment. You just have to remember that most parents in the special needs community would sooner endure physical abuse from their child than call then police. We have to be careful when making statements about not calling.

The reason for that is some of these kids are very dangerous and represent a very real threat to their families. Calling the police should always be a last resort but people need to know that they can if they need too. Does that make sense?


 @Bill Numan I could spank my son with your hand, and it would have no affect.  My son is at times physically abusive and verbally abusive to others in the home.  We don't tolerate it.  but there is only so much that we can do at the same time.  We are working on a residential placement, but that kind of thing takes time.


Thanks Rob, glad and happy to offer insight.


Maybe next time I see an ambulance and not freak and be scared, and instead say "mom, it's like Rob used to do, they are helping people! 😀


Not at all saying this, but from my perspective, could the teddy of been a comfort item that Gavin was trying to use to calm down (self calm)? Therefore by taking it, he thought about that more than the police? Again, I have no idea. I am sure you handled the situation right. Don't ever forget, you and Lizzie are awesome parents!


@Chloe123 We just love you. You make a very good point. However, the teddy wasn't anywhere near him at the time. I do think you're right that he thought more about the teddy then the police.

Thank you for the insight. 🙂


I've certainly been there, though with a different set of problems from our son. I've thought more seriously about just calling the county to come take him to an in-patient care center.  But instead of him not caring or thinking that you won't follow through, I suspect it's more that he doesn't understand, in concrete terms, what the police really are and what would happen. That's not "real" in his mind, not because he doesn't think you'll do that but because he doesn't have an experiential reference for what it means.
I suspect that police intervention is not the best option, either. I think that, as Kathleen suggests, an EMT would be better help, and really calling the county intervention hotline to see what they recommend when you get to that point in the future is not a bad idea — they sometimes have a fast-response number to call and get immediate help for this kind of situation.
I do hope things settle down for you guys the rest of the night and week — really hoping for you all.


@proffy_mommy thank you very much.


I think you were right, not to involve the Police.  I know it's sometimes difficult to find the line between inappropriate behavior and loss of self-control. A visit from the Police as a disciplinary measure would have been traumatic for everyone. I know seeing an ambulance pull up might not be a comforting sight either, but an EMT would have mild sedatives on hand, especially if there is a chance he would accidentally hurt himself? My son's classroom has a unique "quiet corner", with partitions, students go there for a break from stimuli, just a quiet area with a beanbag chair, and more recently a painting easel. Do your boys have a space to get away for alone time? Just my opinions… we do what we can, learning as we go. 


@Kathleen thank you very much for your support.


Great idea, but if one of your younger children is scared of ambulances this might be an issue as well, or specifically ask that the ambulance not have its lights on when pulling up to your house. I for some reason am afraid when I see an ambulance sitting somewhere that I am going with its lights on, even just its park lights. 


@Chloe123 I was a paramedic for a really long time. Honestly, there would be no benefit to calking EMS because they wouldn't be able to do anything. They will not sedate a child for any reason, at least in my area.

My kids wouldn't be frightened by the ambulance though as they are familiar with them from my past career.


I don't think you were wrong at all in how you handled the situation. As long as he understands fully what police are, what they will do, & how that will affect those around him. If he doesn't understand those things then it is a moot point in threatening.
I have had to (while pregnant) physically restrain my 10 year old daughter to the point of putting her arms & legs pretzeled up behind her. 🙁 All experts involved with her had finally told me that if I have to ever restrain her like that again I might as well restrain her to the car & take her to Shadow Mountain (an in-patient health facility here that caters to children like my daughter & with other behavioral issues) and I DO threaten her with it when & if I have to. I have done it now on 2 occasions & I can see her try really hard in the middle of a fit to control herself because of the thought of the place.
Bottom line, you have to do what works for you & your family (as you well know) & that also varies with which child you are dealing with. My daughter is just getting too tall & too heavy for me to have to wrestle & that + pregnancy is what upped the ante for me.
Go with your gut. 🙂 Second guessing your decisions in some cases teaches you what you could have done better/differently. In others, it just drives that cycle of what ifs round & round in your head & makes you drive yourself batty! 🙂


@j12mc thank you. I agree with you. I hate the fact that we have to resort to this but life just isn't fair.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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