Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dancing With Danger-Understanding How I Process Dangerous Situations

One common trait that is often present with autism is the lack of fear of danger, or a lack of awareness to apparent danger. With children, and even some adults this might look like a person jumping into deep water even though they can't swim, or jumping off of a high place without regards to bodily harm. Some individuals might step out into busy roads without looking for oncoming traffic. I think those are all obvious actions that stand out in a big way.

But, some may ask; Is there less obvious situations where an autistic person might find themselves in an unsafe situation, and not know it? The answer is unfortunately, yes. The older we get the more sophisticated the situations become. Some of us might find ourselves elbow deep in social situations that seem straightforward to others, but elude us.

For example
, a few weeks ago I read an article about how one of our local charities had been robbed. The robber did not show a weapon, but had what appeared to be one in his jacket pocket. I remarked that I would never have given the money over without actually knowing if the man actually had a gun or not. To me, this seems like a logical way to think. This is not logical, according to my husband, and causes him to "worry about me".  I don't understand why, though. This isn't something that can be explained to me. Either I get it, or I don't, and I don't.

Another example from my adult life is a couple of years ago I caught some guy loading up stuff from our carport in the middle of the day. I was livid. My first thought was to confront him, and confront him I did. All 115 pounds of angry me went out there demanding to know what he thought he was doing with my stuff. I tore him up one side, and down the other, and made him unload my stuff. I even made him open up his entire vehicle, including the trunk to be sure he got it all. It seems comical now, but that whole scenario could have ended quite differently if things turned violent. That was something that didn't occur to me as I stomped out there. It didn't even occur to me until a friend brought it up. It wasn't until I thought about what she had said for awhile that I realized how dangerous it was for me to do that.

There have been numerous other times where I have gotten myself into dangerous situations, and I have mostly managed to escape without harm. One of them where I hadn't is all too common for autistic women, unfortunately. It's compounded even further when we can't explain why we stayed in a situation that was so perilous, or why we acted so differently than other victims. There is no explanation to be told. I don't always have the information that I need to make the best choices, even when that information seems to come second nature to others.

If you're a parent, or a young autistic adult, especially a female I can offer a few tips that I have figured out along the way:

If you're a parent focus more on open communication than judging, and shaping character. Let your kids feel like they can come to you with any problem, and they will.

If you're in ANY doubt AT ALL call/text your parents, or a trusted friend that can help you go over the situation. This is why kids need to feel parents will listen without judgment/punishment. They need to know they can count on parents to get them out of sticky situations without heavy consequences.

Bring a buddy with you as much as possible in new social situations. In a dating scenario make it a double date, or something like that. Always go to, and leave parties, and bars with friends.

I can't really think of any more tips. Most of these types of situations seem to be spontaneous in life, and there isn't a lot of prep work that can be done to avoid them. The scenarios are specific, and my brain files them away as specific situations. I will not likely generalize a situation, and apply to other similar situations in the moment of danger. My brain will not do that, so ample amounts of social stories won't necessarily prepare someone like me for much.

If you have any tips, or examples you'd like to share I'd love to read them.


  1. One rule I have for myself is Never change my mind when I've been drinking. This applies to unexpected changes of venue, or someone hitting on me at a bar. Guys try to wheedle you into hooking up (because begging and putdowns are such a winning combo, right? :-/ ) But a clearly stated rule confounds them, and they leave me alone.

    When people insult me, I have two responses: yeah, so what? Or I explain why it is inaccurate. Either way, they don't get the expected escalation, and the altercation fizzles.

    1. When I was much younger, and not married yet (Years, and years ago!) I would go out to places like bars, ect... with a good friend, and the unspoken rule was that we always returned home together the same as we came. I recently realized that this is not a thing now, as it used to be. We never really had to arrange it. It was just the way it was, because of safety reasons. I think it's harder navigating the social environment now than it used to be because of that. People are not so stuck in pairs, or groups, and break up to go, and do independent things by mid-evening.

  2. i kinda know what you mean!
    my first year of college, i started calling in to the local (non campus) radio station, and developed a friendship with the dj there. i didnt realize it, but he kinda developed feelings for me. i met him in person twice, once i walked out to the station alone and he gave me a ride back to campus (i told him i could walk but he insisted), and the other time i was smart enough to bring a girl friend with me and he gave us both a ride back in his corvette. :P this was after i had told him to play me a song because it was the end of the year and i was leaving... and he played a sweet romantic one. i kinda figured it out, but i still never imagined there was any danger, and i guess im lucky and he was an admirable guy, because nothing ever happened. i think about him often though, as i do all friends ive had... but its strange how i could have definitely put myself in harms way, but was protected by the guy instead of harmed. im grateful that God has always kept me safe. i dont know why, but im grateful.

    1. Those areas of when it's okay to take rides, or leave with a man is still gray to me. Since I'm married now, they don't really come up, but if they did I'd still not quite know when it's safe to accept or not. I don't know how other women determine this.


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