Everyone should take precautions to avoid becoming victims of criminal activity. Unfortunately, persons with autism often need to take extra precautions. Community education and teaching people with autism safety skills are both important parts of the solution.
Tips to help stay safe:
- To avoid victimization from street crimes or abusers, avoid areas that are unfamiliar to you.
- Consider carrying a cell phone.
- Travel in groups if possible or walk with the crowd.
- Do not dawdle or appear rushed in a crowd.
- Park in a secure area.
- Keep car doors locked.
- Take a look around the parking lot before unlocking doors and exiting your vehicle.
- Arrive with the crowd to work, school, and other events.
- Avoid gawking.
- Do not maintain eye contact.
- Let someone know of your travel plans.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash.
- Dress to suit the area.
- Stay in well-lit areas.
- Do not wander off well-traveled pedestrian walkways or vehicular avenues
What other actions can I take?
Contact your local autism service providers and suggest that they help you to develop a partnership with police for ongoing law enforcement training sessions.
Provide educational handouts for law enforcement. Ask for help to distribute the handout to law enforcement agencies.
Encourage local autism service providers to create opportunities where you and other persons with autism can interact with law enforcers in a safe, structured, non-threatening and low-anxiety environment. You can then can learn from each other how to best interact. These educational opportunities will need to be discussed, planned and carried out. Advocacy groups should be encouraged to embrace these issues and help you form partnerships with law enforcers. Mutual education and information sharing will always be the keys to successful resolution of autism related contacts. (Debbaudt, 2003)
Author Dennis Debbaudt is the parent of a young man who has autism, an author, law enforcement trainer and producer of autism-related videos and curriculum for law enforcement agencies. His materials are in use by law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom. Dennis can be reached via his website www.autismriskmanagement.com, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 772-398-9756.