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Talking About Going into the Community

We have spent months telling our loved ones that it was not safe to go to school, the park, the store, or to visit family and friends. Now, with the proper precautions, we are talking about going out to the community again! With this big change, a lot of feelings may happen for both you and your family members.

How to Have the Conversation

  • Ask your loved one how they feel about leaving the house
  • Let them know whatever they feel is OK
  • Use visuals to help them describe what they may be feeling
  • Be sure to acknowledge/validate their feelings
  • Reassure them about safety
  • Give them time to get comfortable going out again

“May Not be Ready” Indicators

Anxious, fidgety, refusal, scripting, stimming while talking about going out again

“Maybe Ready” Indicators

Curiosity, asking questions, watching neighbors who are outside

“Ready” Indicators

Prepares to go out, talks about where they want to go, excited

Possible Feelings: 

Happy, excited, worried, unsure, scared, confused, safe, unsafe, curious, energetic, angry, panicked, numb

Maybe Not Ready

If your loved one is not yet ready to go out, you can …

  • Watch others in your neighborhood who are out and safe
  • Continue to talk 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 your loved one might be ready to go out, but maybe not to a store or restaurant…

  • Go to a park where they 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 and in the car
  • Visit with family or friends first


If your loved one is 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 so not to overwhelm them
  • If visiting friends or family let them know if your loved one is anxious
  • Take into account sensory input as your loved one might be feeling overwhelmed
  • Have them take part in planning the first outing

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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.