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New Jersey police officer gets tablet for teen with autism to help him communicate

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NEW JERSEY – For one New Jersey teenager, the difficulty he has communicating with his family just got a little bit easier.

Zion Westbrook, 16, has autism and is non-verbal. His mother Zimora says he has run away a few times because of his frustrations with communication.

“We’ve been to the residence numerous times, and when we brought him back again, I decided to ask his mom if there was anything special she needed or anything we could do to help prevent Westbrook from running away again,”  Officer Richard Hartnett told ABC News.

Zion’s mother said he has a tablet at school, but it can’t come home with him and she was unable to afford one.

Officer Hartnett reached out to Jim O’Neill, who owns an electronics store to try and get Zion a tablet.

Zion got the tablet last week and his mother said he hasn’t put it down.

“He can text basically whatever he wants,” Miller told ABC station WABC. “If it’s ‘I want some water,’ and he sees the symbols, he can just press it.”