stranger danger


How We Teach Special Needs Kids About Stranger Danger


Parents often ask us about how we go about adapting the content of our program from our little kids to our adolescents and young adults, so we thought we’d spend some time doing blogs and videos about our young adult content.


One of the most important things we talk about with our young adults is “Stranger Danger.” This can be a very important topic for your child, depending on their cognitive ability, emotional ability or intellectual ability.


Our Kiddos Interacting in the Community


When we address Stranger Danger we look at the clients’ abilities along with how much they will be engaging with the community. As our kids get older they’re out in the community with other people. They may be in school, they may be in a pre-vocational or volunteer placement, they may be in some sort of advanced education placement such as a technical program at the community college—whatever their abilities may lead them to they are with you (the parent) less, and out in the community more.


Kids With Special Needs Are Vulnerable


And that’s what we want! But we also realize that there are predators out there. There will always be predators out there, whether you are special needs or not. And many of our clients are very vulnerable because we’ve taught them to be compliant. We do need them to be compliant, but the danger here is that they can be compliant to a fault. For instance, if someone were to go up to them and say, “Hey, I know your mom! Come with me!” or “Hey, I have this treat for you! Get in my car!” they’d go.


Different Scenarios


So we have to shift this compliance as they become older. We have to explain to them that it’s important for them to be kind and to be compliant; however, you don’t go with people you don’t know. We do a lot of scenarios here where we put them in situations where they have to deal with people they don’t know, to practice this. I’ve even used administrative staff members who they don’t know and had them come in and ask the young adult to come with them.


Strategies We Teach


We try to teach them strategies for how to navigate through a world that does have predators and strangers. We want to teach them that we don’t go with people we don’t know. If they are able to use a phone, we want to teach them to call or text to check with a parent to see if it’s okay to go with a stranger. We want to teach them to not just believe something at face value. This requires a great deal of work, a lot of stories and a lot of social scenarios. Ultimately our goal is for our kiddos to go out in the community, but we also want them to be safe when they do so.


It warms my heart when I ask them, “Are you going to go with this person who offered you this treat?” And they respond, “I really want that but I know I shouldn’t go with them.”


Other Important Upcoming Topics


This is such an important thing that we teach our kiddos! And it’s just one part of our content for older kids and young adults. Stay tuned, because we will continue talking about how and what we teach our young adults, including puberty issues. We have so much more to share with you!

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