Be Safe: Prevention Resources for Professionals
Listen and Observe
- Listen to what children tell you, especially if they seem uncomfortable
- Be aware of any changes in behavior or emotions
- Pay attention to any increases in self-stimulating, self-injurious, or repetitive behaviors, or development of new behaviors
- Assess child’s ability to identify and label feelings.Use photos/pictures or icons when needed
- Practice labeling feelings in different situations and telling adults about feelings. Use photos/pictures or icons when needed
- Talk about “okay” and “not okay” touches
- Okay touches: high five with friends, goodnight kiss or hug from parents
- Not okay touches:hitting, pulling hair, or touching private parts
- Talk about what to do in uncomfortable, hurtful, or dangerous situations: leave the situation, ignore comments, yell for help, tell the person to stop, say no, tell a trusted adult
- Name adults who the child can ask for help in various settings
- Have a concrete plan in place for what to do and how to tell someone if they feel uncomfortable and ROLE PLAY and practice talking to trusted adults
- Talk to children about their rights, including the right to be safe
- Explain that parents, teachers, and other adults make choices for children, but children can also make choices to keep themselves safe
- Provide opportunities every day for children to make choices
- Allow children to be independent
- Use positive discipline
- Do not shame or make children feel bad about themselves
- If a child has been abused, learn about counseling options for the child and family
- Make sure that the bathroom is private and that the child is comfortable with the adult that is responsible for hygiene by asking them first
- Before helping child use the toilet or clean themselves, tell them what you are doing and ask permission
- If child is nonverbal – decide on words and symbols to communicate personal safety
- Provide a whistle or alarm device to signal emergencies
- Have conversations about what is safe to share and what is not
- Learn about cyber safety
- Make sure safety features are activated on children’s devices
- Define what a secret is: Someone tells you something and says not to tell anyone else
- Explain that secrets can sometimes hurt people
- Tell a trusted adult if someone tells them to keep a secret or says they will hurt them if they tell anyone their secret
Teach that Everyone Deserves to be Treated Well
- People can say no when they don’t want something to happen
- Make sure everyone has a trusted person they can talk to
- Help write down goals, develop objectives, and track progress. Target goals for building relationships, self-esteem, and life goals.
Teach Problem Solving Skills For Relationships
- Teach social skills to address problems like conflict resolution and saying “no”
- Practice identifying alternative solutions to problems
- Practice making choices in different settings so they are able to leave a situation that feels uncomfortable or crosses sexual boundaries
- Practice clear communication so they are comfortable communicating if they don’t approve of an activity or action
Teach About Different Types of Relationships
- Give examples of similar and different relationships and what makes them healthy
- Teach about relationships with different people – strangers, acquaintances, service providers, family members, etc
- Teach listening skills and assertiveness
- Provide education on rights and community resources that build self-esteem and autonomy
Promote Self-Awareness and Self-Understanding
- Identify ways to meet physical and psychological needs
- Understand and accept individual differences
- Identify strategies for dealing with stress and frustration
Tips when screening for abuse
- Research suggests that computer-assisted screening may work best for individuals with autism or developmental delays.
- Ask questions in a private area to promote safety and confidentiality.
- Use open ended questions and allow the person time to process and respond.
- When screening, it’s important to screen for all types of abuse, as when someone is experiencing one type of abuse – it’s likely they may also be experiencing other types.
- Avoid asking leading questions, allow the person to share in their own words what happened.
- The Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5) is considered the “gold standard” to screen for abuse. This is a self-report tool that screens for potentially traumatic events. While typically administered in a paper and pencil format, it can be entered into a computer for individuals to report electronically.
If you suspect someone may have been abused, some potential screening questions may include:
- Has anyone ever touched your private parts when you did not want them to?
- Has anyone in your home ever hit, punched or slapped you?
- Do you get enough to eat and drink in your home?
- Does anyone ever call you names or threaten to hurt you?
|Teaching Personal Safety
|This resource provides information for professionals who work with children with autism on how to teach and address personal safety skills.
|Download file: Teaching Personal Safety
|Teaching Self-Determination and Relationship Building Skills
|provides information for professionals working with adults on how to teach self-determination and relationship building skills to help prevent sexual abuse and assault.
|Download file: Teaching Self-Determination and Relationship Building Skills
|Screening for Abuse
|provides information for professionals working with individuals who have autism on different ways to screen for abuse in adults.
|Download file: Screening for Abuse
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.