Section 2: Know how to support individuals to maintain their personal safety

Q4: Identify factors that may compromise the personal safety of an individual with autism. (2.1)
Someone who has sensory processing disorder on top of their autism may develop a depressive illness due to the anxiety and stress from their difficulties, as well as be a victim to unsuitable diets as some foods may have smells or textures the individual cannot handle – this can also be caused by obsessive behaviour. Behaviour that challenges can also have an effect due to frustration and anxiety, this can include them running away, climbing or self-harm. Difficulties with developing friendships and social cues can open up individuals to exploitation as well as not being aware of common hazards whether in the home, workplace or within their education setting that can cause them harm.

Q5: Give reasons why people with autism may be vulnerable to (2.2)
a) Bullying
Those with autism may experience bullying due to them being seen as different or weak. They may also struggle with school work which can push them into being bullied and due to them preferring their alone time, and not having many friends due to what other people think, they may be seen as socially isolated and be bullied for this.

b) Exploitation
Those with autism may be open to being exploited due to the fact they may appear insecure and anxious or be feel some of the characteristics of depression or low mood. These can push them into becoming exposed to people with bad intentions and they may go along with something due to the low mood or anxious feelings. They may also be seen as weak opening them up to potential exploitation. The lack of awareness of what’s going on and delayed social understanding can push them to be more
exposed to exploitation than someone without autism and lack of communication skills can affect their ability to tell people they are being abused.

Q6: Outline ways to safeguard against the bullying and exploitation of individuals with autism. (2.3)
a) Bullying
It’s important that when an individual is being bullied there are policies and procedures put into place to avoid these situations. Those with autism may be at a disadvantage for bullying due to them being more vulnerable than those without autism and therefore more strict policies and procedures may need to be put into place. Staff may also need to go through training to ensure they can suitably support those with autism and intervene if and when bullying occurred as well as background checks for all
staff. All staff need to be aware of legislation and to ensure safeguarding is put into place. There will also need to be training where staff can feel comfortable enough to step in where necessary if an individual with autism is getting bullied.

b) Exploitation
To safeguard against exploitation staff need to ensure they are up to date on safeguarding legislation as well as undergo any relevant training and understand and be knowledgeable of autism and vulnerability and have enough self-confidence to step in where necessary. The staff member will also need to ensure they are able to build the individual’s resilience to ensure they are able to protect themselves from being bullied, abused or exploited.

Q7: Outline strategies that individuals can use to protect themselves from harm and abuse. (2.4)
Growing up with additional needs can make the individuals feel like they need to please the adults around them, such as their parents and teachers. It can e hard for them to learn to say no due to this and other reasons such as feeling dependent. Developing their independent skills and learning to say no can protect them and learn them to grow on their own protecting themselves from harm and abuse. It is always necessary to develop an individual with autism’s self-esteem and confidence as having additional needs can cause them to feel low or insecure in themselves which can make them more vulnerable. Building their self-esteem and confidence by pushing their independence can benefit them long-term as it can support them to learn to develop these skills themselves protecting themselves from vulnerability. As communication may come as a delay, it’s important that those with autism develop their communication styles so they can learn to share with others to make it easier to
communicate with others.

Q8: Describe ways to support individuals to use the internet and social media safely. (2.5)
Whilst we may instantly think of personal safety being offline, there are quite a few risks that could take advantage of a vulnerable individual online. From a young age, an individual will be exposed to the internet and as social media becomes more popular, they will likely want to be involved on sites that their peers are. Social media sites come with their own risks; putting an individual’s entire life online may be appealing to an individual, including their home address, phone numbers or where they currently are or go to school, college or work. This can open up opportunities for those who wish to exploit an individual to do so as all their information will be online and public for anyone to access. This can be avoided with a good ICT education and awareness of what should and shouldn’t be put online e.g. you shouldn’t put your exact address but putting your town or city shouldn’t cause too much harm unless there are reasons not to do so. Proper education on digital reputation and the use of ICT can support the avoidance of exploitation, cyber-bullying and keeping the individual safe online. It’s also important that although these websites can cause risks, by not exposing the individual to them, they may react negatively and they can only really know how to use them and avoid the usual tricks by using them appropriately. It is the job of educators and parents to show young people and adults to use these websites for good and to use them professionally to support their well-being and future careers and college or university applications.