Autism Safety Techniques:
Assessing and Approaching Individuals With Autism

Recognize, Pause, and Observe


A Person With Autism May:  

  • appear "spacey" or as if on drugs
  • fail to interact, respond, or establish eye contact with you or others
  • touch strangers in socially inappropriate ways
  • not understand even simple instructions or the presence of authority
  • have an extreme reaction to sound, touch, taste, or light
  • appear to be unexplainably angry or aggressive or in pain
  • cup hands over ears as if hearing is painful
  • act unusually nervous, passive, or hyper
  • spin or wiggle an object repeatedly or sift dirt, dust, etc.
  • be preoccupied with arranging or looking at objects
  • shake his or her fingers, hands, arms, or head repeatedly
  • exhibit inappropriate screaming, laughing, giggling, or other sounds
  • injure himself or herself
  • run or climb into dangerous situations
  • have little or no appreciation of danger
  • hear or see something only after a delay of several seconds or more
  • be disoriented in space and time
  • "perseverate"--that is, repeat a simple task or movement over and over
  • seem to ignore you or seem to be deaf
  • repeat a sound or words over and over ("echolalia")
  • react strongly and irrationally if a pattern is interrupted
  • have no speech, or not be understandable
  • confuse "me" and "you" or other pronouns
  • be carrying a communication device
  • seem to have no or little muscle tone
  • walk on tiptoes
  • seem to have unusual skills in math, art, music, or other areas
  • speak more loudly than necessary
  • make inappropriate comments or ask personal questions of strangers
  • be dressed inappropriately
  • rock or pant, or exhibit other unusual behaviors

    Maintaining A Distance Will:  

  • permit the person to complete a pattern of behavior
  • give the person an opportunity to respond to your presence
  • permit a calm, quiet atmosphere to develop
  • prevent possible overstimulation or confusion
  • reduce reaction to light reflection from your buckles or other metal items  
  • prevent possible overstimulation and reactions from others in the area

    By Observing You May Learn:  

  • whether he or she is engaged in an activity
  • important information about the person's behavior pattern
  • whether he or she is injured
  • if he or she is holding any objects
  • if he or she is trying to leave the area or is lost
  • if he or she is repeating a motion or activity ("perseverating")
  • if he or she is reacting to something or someone in the environment      
  • if he or she has language and/or can respond to sounds
  • if a nearby person is with him or her
  • if he or she is wearing a medic alert bracelet or shoe lace tag

    [These are in .doc, .rtf, and .pdf formats; request other formats by email]

    Basic Information About Autism To Carry In The Pocket:
    Gives basic information about autism.
    Warns of unusual behaviors and assures that no harm is intended.
    Designed to be printed out on 8 1/2 x 11 paper (landscape setting).
    Cut into 3 strips that fold into business-card size for carrying in his/her pocket.
    .doc format  .rtf format  .pdf format

    Contact and Emergency Information To Be Carried In The Pocket:
    Gives name, address, and contact information about the person carrying it.
    Designed for situations where the person is lost in a store or other public place.
    Alter for your situation, print out, and place in his/her pocket.
    .doc format  .rtf format  .pdf format

    Information for Neighbors:
    Gives basic information about a person with autism to distribute to the neighbors.
    Especially for situations where the person with autism may wander into adjoining yards.
    Designed for spreading awareness about the person with autism.
    Reassure the neighbors that the person is not a criminal or intending harm.
    Alter for your situation, print out, and distribute.
    .doc format  .rtf format  .pdf format


    GERALD HASSELBRINK, Attorney at Law
    of the Minnesota Bar
    St. Cloud, Minnesota | Phone (320) 251-0222
    Recognizing Autism Main Page | Home