Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I need advice. How have other parents taught their children with intellectual disabilities about the danger of strangers?
Jessica, my now 17 year old daughter, is extremely social, outgoing and friendly. Those are for the most part very good qualities. However, she has yet to learn how to distinguish when she should be friendly towards someone and when she shouldn’t. Jessica has never met a stranger. Everyone she meets she treats like a long-lost friend – hugging, smiling, holding hands. If an abductor drove up next to her, said her name, and invited her to get in their car, she would do it. There would be no need for puppies, candy or any other item to lure her in. She would get in the stranger’s vehicle merely because the stranger smiled at her.
I’ve tried, and Jessica’s teachers have tried over the years to explain dangerous situations to her. But it’s not working. Now that Jessica is 17 and will be 18 in just a few months, I am really starting to worry. Jessica has expressed the desire to live independently as an adult, and I really want to support her in that decision, but I am very worried. Not only will I worry about her getting in a stranger’s vehicle, if she lives independently I will worry about her letting a stranger into her apartment or entering a stranger’s home herself.
Does anyone have any suggestions for teaching Jessica how to distinguish a safe situation from and unsafe one? For a quick snapshot into Jessica’s level of functioning, she has a moderately significant intellectual disability. She reads at a second grade level but without any real comprehension. She writes at a first grade level, and she does math at a 3rd grade level. She doesn’t handle criticism well, and she does have an explosive temper.
Any and all suggestions would be much appreciated!