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.
, 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.