While caregivers are given spaces where they may come together to support each other, there is little interest in creating physical spaces meant for autistic adults with low support needs to recover from past abuses and traumas as well as finding open-minded inclusive people to live with.
Some might think that providing autistics with their own space is discriminatory – preferring for autistics to be fully integrated as part of the larger community. However, autism cannot be compared to a race where people have similar needs but different cultural experiences. Autistics have different needs and will benefit from a spectrum of social spaces that can help transition them to mainstream society.
Autistics who are living with unsupportive and abusive family members will benefit much from having sanctuaries where they can be with supportive people instead of being expected to comply with non-autistic social norms all the time.
There is also a mistaken idea that mixing autistics with high support needs together with that of low support needs is inclusive. This does not support those autistics with low support needs as their focus can be disrupted by their peers with high support needs and also learn more inappropriate behaviours as a result. Each of these groups needs its own space.
1) Friends, family and support workers can enter
2) On a need-to-enter basis for visitors
3) Aware Public can enter
4) All Public can enter
5) Fully integrated with the Local Community
6) Fully integrated with the Global Community
Likewise, there is a need to provide safe spaces online, where people we meet are often anonymous and deception is much easier. Autistics with low support needs are at high risk for bullying and sexual predation because:
1) They get to operate their own social media accounts, usually with minimum caregiver supervision.
2) They often do not know what is inappropriate behaviour.
3) They often lack the self-confidence and awareness to report inappropriate behaviour even if they are aware of it.
4) They are naturally lonely, want to find friends whom they can connect with.
5) Their caregivers tend to be in denial and choose not to join autism support networks while letting their adult autistic wards mingle freely with friends outside. These “hidden caregivers” thus lack an intelligence network that can alert them to threats and provide them with best practices to protect their wards.
For example, Eric is aware of a new threat that has yet to be reported in autism news worldwide: non-autistic sexual predators using autistic people with a formal diagnosis as their accomplices to act as a front for them. The non-autistic mastermind can then manipulate the community using the autistic accomplice’s identity while attributing any suspicious behaviour as unintentional quirks of autism.
The autistic accomplice acts as a friendly and patient “big brother” who is constantly available to support autistics in distress; telling all those whom he is “helping” to message him privately for support. He may be financially supported by the mastermind to enable him to work on this effort full-time.
This accomplice maintains control of the conversations in the public chat groups by private messaging by providing “feedback” and “suggestions” to other autistics in private messages on how to “improve” their communications so that no suspicious behaviours appear in the group chats that can expose himself. This way, the group chat administrators are also unaware of his hidden intent, seeing only a role model who is making the community a better place.
The accomplice can also operate his private chat groups which he invites all potential victims to join; this is where he can post the juicy stuff such as open discussions about homosexual sex. He may also operate a decoy chat group where he puts on his best behaviour and then invite caregivers to join; this way he can help avert their suspicions.
Autistics are vulnerable not only because of their social skills, but also they tend to have different sexual orientations as compared to non-autistics. Safety advisories have been issued to warn the community about this and other potential threats.
The community has to undertake to have:
- Lobbying to extend the Singapore Penal Code (Cap 224, Section 376EA) to protect intellectually and developmentally disabled adults who lack the capacity to give consent for sexual grooming
- Lobbying to extend the Singapore Penal Code (Cap 224, Section 376F) to explicitly include developmentally disabled adults who, while not intellectually or psychiatrically disabled, lack the capacity to give sexual consent
- Parental/professional monitoring of autistic-run organisations and social groups
- Regular education and awareness programmes for autistics to learn about common threats and simple protective/preventive measures that they can take
- A strong Intelligence Network of both caregivers and autistics who can help spot threats and dangers; it has to involve the “Hidden Caregivers” too
- Honeypots of fake vulnerable autistics that will deter predators from trying and catch those who still dare to try
- Partnership with the police force that both deter predators and support victims, with regular engagement to educate and patrol online communities. One way is to park a police chat bot (at the chat administrator’s request) to deter illegal activities.