This week the picture from an autism house shows our front gate post complete with sign asking visitors to close our gate securely. It is a request that could save our son’s life. By reminding visitors to ensure the spring loaded bolt is engaged it might well stop or delay Andy from going out onto a busy road.
Caring for Andy has turned us into serious risk assessors. We tend to plan and think most things through. Failure to do so can have serious consequences though it is nice to do something on a whim occasionally!
Here are some of the things that make Andy vulnerable.
He has absolutely no sense of danger from any source. Living by the sea makes water a major concern here. The other is road traffic. I have come to love our adopted home town but it is worrying how many people drive way to fast and recklessly on our road. By doing so they put the elderly, disabled and our precious young people at greater risk.
Andy is largely nonverbal and has not developed the social skills we need to understand one another. This makes him incredibly susceptible to anyone with a desire to exploit him in any way. He would have no awareness of anyone mocking him or being a threat to him.
Andy’s sensory seeking behaviours mean that he is attracted blindly to stimuli that appeal to him. He would cross a road without a thought to examine a colourful sign or the texture of a wall for example. He would reach out to a naked flame or a sharp implement , drawn in visually with no idea of the harm it might cause him. He could be at risk from falling from height due to his desire to climb. A quick resume might be useful here by way of explanation. Andy has sensory processing difficulties which means that his brain struggles to process sensory information leading to behaviour that seeks to reaffirm weak information or avoid stimuli that are received powerfully e.g. continuously touching a texture or running from a fire alarm.
While all these thoughts cause great anxiety for us a parents I know that every measure we take to keep him safe and make others aware could prevent an accident or even save a life.