"Everyone should take precautions to avoid becoming victims of criminal activity. Unfortunately, persons with autism often need to take extra precautions. In order to avoid detection, arrest and prosecution, criminals become skilled at picking out easy victims. Robbers and con artists will notice unusual behavior when they select their next victim. An unarmed robber or con artist will operate in public places. Anywhere there's regular pedestrian traffic or large public gatherings will afford a criminal the chance to identify or mark victims. If you are threatened or asked to give up money or valuables, do not resist. Give them what they want. These things can be replaced. Once in a safe area, call the police."
- Dennis Debbaudt, Autism Risk and Safety Management
Tips from Dennis:
- 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
Contact your local autism advocacy organization and suggest that they help you to develop a partnership with police for ongoing law enforcement training sessions.
Ask your support group to assist you in the development of a generic handout for law enforcement.
Ask for help to distribute the handout to law enforcement agencies, and develop an approved training program for law enforcers.
Encourage your advocacy organizations and persons of trust to create opportunities where you and other persons with autism or Asperger Syndrome can interact with law enforcers in a safe, structured, non-threatening and low-anxiety environment. You can then can learn from eachother 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.