Safety Tips to Avoid Victimization of a Crime

April 9, 2012 Prism Newsletter
By Amy Goodman

Let’s take time out in April to become aware of not only autism, but how it can affect other areas of an individual’s life. Did you know that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities tend to be more likely to be victims of crime? A survey done in 2007 by the Autism Society of America (ASA) found that 35% of individuals with autism have been the victim of a crime.

There are many reasons why an individual with an ASD may be more susceptible to victimization. A preoccupation with other interests, as well as difficulties with social communication and societal rules may cause a person with an ASD to become a target of crime. An individual with an ASD may not always know what the social norm is; therefore, he/she may be unaware of the rules in society pertaining to safety. Another reason may be due to the fact that he/she may take everything literally, which leaves room for deception. To avoid victimization, here are some safety tips that people with ASD may want to consider:

  1. Avoid areas that are unfamiliar
  2. Consider carrying a cell phone
  3. Travel in groups
  4. Do not dawdle
  5. Do not appear rushed in a crowd
  6. Park in a secure place
  7. Keep car doors locked
  8. Avoid gawking
  9. Do not maintain eye contact
  10. Let someone you trust know of your travel plans
  11. Do not carry large amounts of cash
  12. Dress appropriately for the area or situation
  13. Stay in well-lit areas
  14. Do not wander off well-traveled pedestrian walkways

In the case of an emergency or if you feel your safety is being threatened, contact the police. Other ideas include carrying an identification card that says you have ASD or other developmental disabilities. The card should include your emergency contacts and details about your diagnosis. Autism cards are available from the Roaring Fork Autism Network.

If you do find yourself being a victim or witness of a crime and wish to report it, keep in mind that you are entitled to certain accommodations and additional supports during the reporting and trial process. These may include:

  1. Having another adult to accompany you during an interview
  2. Using a screen to ensure that you cannot see the defendant in court
  3. Pre-recorded testimonies and live TV links, allowing you to testify from outside the court
  4. Allowing the witness to use communication devices
  5. A court appointed intermediary, who works with you to make sure you understand the questions being asked and to make sure your responses are understood by the interviewer

The risk of being a victim of a crime can be minimized by following some common sense rules, as well as knowing and exercising your rights. Hopefully, some of the suggestions above can help you to avoid being a victim of crime. However, if you do find yourself in that situation, remember that there is always help available. You should never feel like there is no one to turn to in a time of need. Be aware, be knowledgeable, and be safe.

Amy Goodman is the Co-Director of the Autism NOW Center.

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3 thoughts on “Safety Tips to Avoid Victimization of a Crime

  1. I have 4 children, 3 are on ASD. I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone for 5 years. I have been investigated by the county for the past 5 years reguarding my children. Ranged from running away, their appearance and behavior in public. We have had visits from local police, sheriff and child protection services. My family has been publicly harassed (picked on), bullied by other children on our street . Also threatened by strangers by telling me they would call the police reguarding my children in general. I hear i am not a responsible parent, etc. because of my children on ASD. It is now becoming a safety concern. I do not know from day to day who is or what will happen that day. I do not have much protection from the services I have in place. Yes, I think we are being victimized by unknown individuals and or entities. Changed are daily routines , being more aware of our surroundings; who is around what vehicles come around etc. What can I do when I cannot get privacy for my family and no assistance from anyone willing to listen to us.

  2. Hi Mel,

    Thanks for reaching out to us. We’re sorry to hear about the struggles with your children and the members in your community.

    The best thing you can do at this point is to call our hotline at 1-855-828-8476. The staff at the call center will be better able to identify resources specific to your situation and community that can help.

    Please let us know if you need anything else! Thanks for visiting our site.

  3. Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ASD is explained more by rare mutations, or by rare combinations of common genetic variants.,:,,

    With kind thoughts

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