Issue 18’s Big Question
What Does it Mean to Feel Safe?
Introduction by Rose Sutton
The definition of safety is the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury. In our family, safety is also a feeling of being safe and supported. For each of us to understand that it is all our responsibility to keep not only ourselves safe, but also the other family members. We need to respect each other, check in on each other regularly, spend time together, and try to hurt each other’s feelings.
Although the two older children are out of the home, we are each paired with another family to check on. Luckily, there are six of us. Us parents ensure each person has a phone and phone service. Everyone reports to mom or dad on the status or needs of their partner. This not only ensures we are safe, but it also keeps us connected.
Another thing we do for safety is pair the adult children with the teens when social media comes into play. If a teen wants to be on a social media site, they must notify an older sibling, and the older sibling can check to ensure they are being appropriate and safe online.
Now that my autistic son Christian is driving, he must check in regularly on his whereabouts. He has taken driver’s education I n school, as well as in the private sector, to reinforce his learning. We also each have a code word we can say to each other that only we know if we ever feel we are scared or in danger. Safety is taught. How to have healthy relationships and boundaries, about our bodies, to check on the others, being mindful of our surroundings, and not going anywhere alone or at least letting someone know where we are. And now, we sanitize our hands and use masks that are washed after each use.
Zoom Autism Magazine asked the autistic community at large to share their definitions of what it means to feel safe. We share a collection of their responses:
“In our family, safety includes a feeling of being safe and supported. For each of us to understand that it is all our responsibility to keep not only ourselves safe, but also the other family members. We need to respect each other, check in on each other regularly, spend time together, and try to not hurt each other’s feelings.”
The Sutton Family
“For me, safety means being safe from any unnecessary harm and able to live my life in pursuit of happiness.” Darrius Frazier
“I have spent years working to build a home where I feel safe to relax and be myself, in all my messy/emotional glory. My home, wherever it tends to be, provides the sensory supports needed to allow me to recharge. Outside these walls, I have no real promise of safety being a queer nonbinary person in Maine. Still, I can find safety in my skin in these walls while fostering my internal growth. Also, the two kitties help as they are my guard cats.”
“Safety Means a Whole Lot to Me! Safety is Very Very Important for Everybody! Safety Helps Keep all of Us and Our Beloved Friends and Family Very Safe and Protected! Safety is Very Very Important and Very Very Serious Everywhere and Safety is also for Our Protection too!” Daniel Svoboda
“Safety to me is knowing I have a voice. Sometimes, my words and actions give others the wrong idea about my abilities, values, and intentions. From past experience, I know that misinterpretations can be scary and even dangerous, which gives me anxiety around new people and situations. Having support from someone who knows me and how I communicate gives me reassurance that my voice will be heard.”
Photo credit: Getty Images
Go Back to Issue 18 Home
Read more articles on the Black autistic experience beyond the hashtags in Issue 18 of Zoom Autism Magazine.
- Why are Black Disabled Activists Being Ignored or Forgotten? by Anita Cameron
- Autistic While Black and the Case of Matthew Rushin – #FreeMatthewRushin
- We Believe…In the Right to Exist by Elizabeth Roy
- Why the Social Model Will Not Save Us and “Disability Rights” Aren’t Intersectional by Tiffany Hammond
- What Does it Mean to Feel Safe? Intro by Rose Sutton
In Every Issue
- Editor Letter – Black Autistic Lives Matter: Beyond the Hashtags by Elizabeth Roy
- Cummings and Goings: Working Together to Fix the System by Conner Cummings
- 5 Must-Read Books by Black Autistic Authors by Adriana White
- THE VIEW FROM HERE: “I am Just Going to Be Me” by Jasmine Sutton with an update from Daniel Derrico
Discover More Zoom Issues
- Archived issues on the Zoom Home Page