The autistic mind, generally, has one track. If it were a train, it’s the one you’d want to be on because chances of derailment are very slim.
Having superior focus can be a great thing if you are working on an art project, programming a computer or performing surgery.
When you focus on one thing, to the exclusion of everything else, however, it can cause problems.
Social problems are the most obvious, either ignoring, or behaving rudely to a person who disrupts the autistic's concentration.
A much bigger problem, is that when an autistic person is focused on something, they may be oblivious to dangers around them as well.
In Oregon, a girl was found walking down the highway by police officers. They used a taser gun to stop her when she didn’t respond to them.
Lianne Wiley, author of the books, “Pretending to be Normal” and “Safety skills for Asperger Women,” was raped by a police officer, because she did not read the inappropriate social cues in his behavior.
Many autistics, due to bad experiences, have a general distrust of people, particularly those they don’t know. The opposite can also be true.
They can trust too much, ignore or fail to read the signs and cues that signal danger.
In some cases, this trust can be relatively harmless, such as buying an unnecessary item due to a convincing sales pitch.
In other cases, like a child getting into a car with a stranger because they were promised a gift, the results can be deadly.
Resourceful mentors and caretakers can find ways to keep autistic children and adults safe while still allowing them to have a certain amount of freedom and independence.
Daily repetition of rules can be helpful for young children and adults.
More independent autistic people may need to be reminded of dangers around them and how to avoid them (fastening seat belts before starting the car, walking in well-lit areas where people are nearby).
The cognitive differences, in the autistic brain, that make them more likely to be in a dangerous situation, are the same ones that design breathtaking artwork, create innovative computer programs and invent the devices that make our lives easier.
The world needs unique minds such as these. We must keep them safe.