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Going Into the Community: Self-Advocates

First Steps

Three people looking at clothes in a store.For months we have heard guidance from leaders in our community that it was not safe to go to school, the park, the store, or to visit family and friends. Now, we are slowly talking about going out to the community again, with proper precautions in place. With this big change, a lot of feelings may come up for you. The questions below can help you check in with yourself about how you are feeling during this uncertain time.

Check Your Feelings

  • How do you feel about leaving the house?
  • Is there anything you are worried about?
  • What are you looking forward to in the community?
  • Do you have people to support you with this transition?

Prepare Yourself

  • Make sure you have a mask to wear and anything else you need to remain safe.
  • Listen to guidance from your local officials about how to return to community settings.
  • Reach out to family and friends to see if they can support you during this process.
  • If there are certain things about going into the community which make you nervous, share those feelings with someone you trust.
  • Give yourself time to get comfortable with going out again.
  • Make a plan for where you may go.
  • Think about the supports you may need to go out.

Maybe Not Ready

If you’re not yet ready to go out, you can …

  • Watch others in your neighborhood who are out and safe
  • Learn about safety measures like masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing
  • Have friends or family come to you first to show that they are safe
  • Spend time outside on the porch, balcony, or in a yard if possible

Maybe Ready

If you are maybe ready to go out, but maybe not to a store or restaurant…

  • Go to a park where you can be outside and feel safer
  • Drive to the store and watch people going in and out from your car
  • Practice wearing a mask at home
  • Visit with family or friends first
  • Wear a mask when out of the house and visiting with other people


If you are ready to go out…

  • Go to the store at a time of day when it may be less busy
  • Make the first trip a short one
  • If visiting friends or family, let them know if you feel anxious
  • Plan your first outing ahead of time
  • Be sure to wear a protective mask, especially indoors with people who don’t live with you

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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.