Independence is a natural desire for all teenagers but it is important for you to understand there are many safety concerns in the community. As a teenager with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is important for you to think ahead of all the risks. Developing a safety plan and reviewing it periodically is important.
As a young teenager and moving forward to becoming a young adult, you may want to be involved in and explore the community environment more independently. As a teenager with ASD you may be at a different intellectual and developmental stage to that of your peers and safety awareness may not be fully understood. Because of this you may be unaware of the associated consequences for risky behaviours when out in the community. Planning ahead can help you to improve your safety when out in the community. Remember to ask your parents or teachers for help with this.
Before you go out alone or with friends in the community you need to know that not everyone behaves well and some people try to take advantage of others or may try to hurt you. Some general safety areas that you need to think about and practice strategies and responses for are:
- What would you do if approached by a beggar or someone trying to sell you something?
- What would you do if one or more persons approaches you and wants your belongings?
- How do you respond if someone attempts to grab you?
It is important also that you know how to safely handle your money and bank cards. Depending upon your understanding of cash transactions and card use this will be an area you will need to learn so that you can function independently in the community.
If you are planning to use public transport you need to consider preparing for situations that may occur:
- What will you do if miss your bus or train stop?
- What will you do if your bus or train doesn’t arrive on time or is cancelled?
- How do you manage strangers who may approach you on your trip?
- What do you do if you lose your transport ticket/card, forget to validate it or run out of funds?
Remember to always have your schedule with you as this may help to calm you if things don’t go to plan. It is also very important to carry personal information with you in case something happens to you so the people who try to help can have some way of contacting another person who knows you.
There are many ways of spending leisure time in the community and it is a time to experience new things and have fun!