ASD, adults and safety in the community

It is society’s expectation that all adults will be responsible citizens in the community. It is expected that we understand right from wrong and act accordingly. As an adult with ASD the same expectations are afforded to you. In today’s society there is more scrutiny on people’s behaviours.


In different environments there may be different levels of scrutiny. As an adult with ASD you need to be aware of this, your possible responses to situations and your expectations of your rights while you engage in leisure activities. Shopping centres are one example of where levels of scrutiny may be different from store to store. The following are some things for you to consider:

  • Store security– some stores have security people at the entry and ask to check your bags on entry and exit. While you may see this as a breach of your privacy, it is often a condition of entry to the store and you need to comply.
  • Payment– all things that are in the store have to be paid for. Don’t let other people convince you to take something from a store without paying for it first. This is called shoplifting and store security will detain you and the police will be called.

If you come in contact with the police or need to contact them, it is important that you are aware of how to interact. The following are some things for you to consider:

  • When approached by police– keep calm use your strategies and be aware of your body language
  • Disclosing your ASD– it is probably best to disclose your ASD in these circumstances as you may become stressed and your behaviour could change which cause the police to respond differently.
  • Contacting police– you may need to contact police if you are in trouble, feel threatened or have been injured.

In the community it is important to manage relationships. You may be part of a group that meets regularly and if you are single you may have a desire to form a relationship or you may already be in a relationship. Depending on how your ASD affects you and any developmental disability you may have, you may need further assistance to understand and manage this. The following are some areas you need to be aware of:

  • Romantic relationship– this is how two individuals feel about each other. Typically it may commence as a friendship and it then leads to something more intimate
  • Sexual behaviours– these are sexual behaviours between consenting adults that can occur at home but not out in the community in public view
  • Harassment– you need to be aware this can be sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional eg. it is something that makes you feel uncomfortable, threatened, or exposed to assault.

If you are unsure about any of the stages of relationship development talk to your doctor, health care professionals, family, friends, support networks or other trusted members in your community for advice.

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