Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

May 10, 2020

Senator Lesser To Host Facebook Live Conversation With Rocky Hill Officer Monday to Recognize Compassionate Approach to Assisting Local Autistic Woman

State Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) will host a Facebook Live on Monday, May 11 at 11 a.m. with Rocky Hill Police Department Officer Jessica Ostroski and the Benjamin family to recognize Officer Ostroski’s compassionate and understanding approach to assisting the Benjamins. Zoe Benjamin, 23, has a severe form of autism and can react negatively when certain aspects of her environment change; during one of those reactions recently, Officer Ostroski played a direct role in helping Zoe’s mother soothe her. The conversation will be streamed on Sen. Lesser’s Facebook page.

“Officer Ostroski’s selfless and compassionate actions should be the gold standard in how law enforcement, and all of us, assist and help everyone in our community, especially individuals like Zoe on the autism spectrum disorder,” said Sen. Lesser. “When I read Adrienne Benjamin’s piece in the Hartford Courant about Officer Ostroski, I was emotionally touched; she worked to make sure Adrienne had the help she needed while approaching Zoe with the appropriate level of respect. By holding this conversation, I want to provide her with recognition she deserves, while also educating the public about the special challenges severe autism care requires.”

“I was at the right place at the right time and was given the opportunity to do the right thing and help out,” said Officer Ostroski. “With the training I’ve received in my line of work, it made it that much easier to know how to help and be there in the best I’ve been trained to. I’m looking forward to participating on this panel on Monday and reconnecting with Adrienne to share this experience with others and bring awareness to this important topic.”

On May 1, Adrienne Benjamin, Zoe’s mother, wrote an editorial that appeared in the Hartford Courant discussing how she takes care of her daughter, and the challenges that arise when she reacts negatively to changes in her environment. Recently, Zoe had a severe reaction when Officer Ostroski, who was in the area, joined Adrienne, avoiding physical contact while assisting her in calming Zoe down.

“The severe autism life is precarious; it feels we are always just one minute, one tantrum, one impulsive flight away from horrific disaster, a terrible reality that has intensified during the stress of the pandemic,” Adrienne Benjamin wrote in that editorial. “[Officer Ostroski] brought a glimmer of hope that training, caring and a steady calmness can help us out of our harrowing situations. I hope all first responders, from police officers to EMTs, and indeed the whole of society, learn about severe autism, not just TV-version autism. Only with knowledge of reality can the world come to our aid when we need it most.”

It’s hoped by highlighting Officer Ostroski’s work and the challenges that arise in the process of treating and working with individuals on the autism spectrum, first responders and members of the public can learn more about the condition and how to best respond and assist individuals needing help.