Being able to protect yourself and move through the world can be challenging for those who need to manage their own needs as well as how they interact with others on a daily or second by second basis. The perceived threats can be very real and have very real consequences for individuals and their families, requiring them to drop everything to deal with events that happen which are often outside of their control.
Focusing on individual needs is important, however it is also important to look at what the public knowledge and understanding of the expectations that individuals with health needs have of their specific ‘roles’. Challenges such as those being experienced during this period with COVID have made it distressing for some individuals to be out in public using public transport when there are people who don’t follow ‘guidelines’ of what social distancing looks like and the impact that this has on how many people get on a train at one time. Being able to manage your internal level of how overwhelmed you are when needing to advocate for yourself to this extent can require huge levels of energy and result in the need for greater personal time to recoup at the end of the day.
Students often comment that they don’t understand why someone looks at them that way or why someone treated them with such disrespect when they were only attempting to do the ‘right’ thing. Relative versus Absolute processing is important to discuss in significant detail at an individual level and with each family member so that problem solving is accurate.
Knowing what is happening around you is important for your own personal safety and for the safety of others. Individuals can have experiences of success out in public on occasions but may struggle with the adding up of how many instances of challenges they have compared with those of success. Measuring progress on a day to day basis as compared to the difficulties experienced when out in public are important to talk through. The impact of issues out in public often relate to safety.