Community Resources for Adults with Autism

Feeling like a part of the community can be especially important for the livelihood and independence of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 5,437,988 (2.21%) adults in the United States have ASD. As these adults age, factors associated with growing older and remaining active in the community may become increasingly challenging. 

This is why the organization Autism Speaks has compiled a list of resources to help those diagnosed and their families to better ensure their safety in the community. The organization shares simple experiences and activities that take place in the community. The activities are grouped into separate sections in order to focus specifically on safety in each of these components of our daily lives.

Creating Safety Plans for Individuals with Autism: When it comes to identifying safety risks and preventing emergencies for an individual with autism, loved ones and families are the best advocates, and the people most likely responsible for taking the necessary steps to develop a safety plan. It is critical to take the time to evaluate what a family member needs to be safe and protected at home, at school and in his or her community. Top safety risks for adults with autism include:

  • Wandering from or leaving safe spaces
  • Pica
  • Drowning
  • Household toxins 
  • Misunderstanding related to communication difficulty

Asking for Help: When adults with autism are out in the community, it is critical that they know what to do in certain situations that may arise. This may often require asking for help. Knowing how to ask for help safely and in a timely manner will help ensure the safety of your loved one. It is beneficial to teach those with ASD these steps on what to do if they get lost: 

  • Here are the big three: STAY CALM, STAY PUT, MAKE NOISE.
  • Do not panic.
  • Stop where you are and try to remember your route.
  • Rethink your steps.
  • Do you remember any of the buildings, signs, houses?
  • If available, use your cellphone to call 911 or home.
  • Have identification available.
  • Consider an Introduction Card (e.g., My name is David and I have autism).
  • Look for a police car or a law enforcement officer.
  • Ensure the cellphone has the GPS mechanism activated.
  • If you are lost in a mall or shopping center, look for security or ask a clerk for help.
  • Ensure you have a small LED flashlight available at all times while traveling/walking.
  • Learn the positioning of the sun to determine approximate time/direction.

Using Public Restrooms: As using a public restroom is a different experience than using the bathroom at home, teaching adults with ASD the proper skills and etiquette is imperative. Autism Speaks shares that ​​the social rules in public men’s restrooms include avoiding eye contact, choosing a urinal or stall as far away from the other person as possible, and looking straight ahead or up and down when using a urinal or stall. Typically, men are also expected to wash up and walk out of the restroom without engaging in conversations. Alternatively, in a women’s public restroom, conversation is normal and eye contact is typically acceptable.

Using cellphones: People with autism can use cellphones as a way to communicate and help keep themselves safe while out in the community. Certain tips can help teach people with ASD to use a cellphone safely. For example, tips include being as discreet as possible when using your cellphone in public, and not using a Bluetooth device or auxiliary speaker system if possible. They should also be taught not to give out personal information over the phone and if they do not recognize the caller, to hang up.

More About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions across the spectrum and throughout the life span for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.

More Autism Safety Community Resources


April is World Autism Month

According to a 2016 United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among 11 surveillance sites was 1 in 54 among 8-year-old children. The report also found ASD diagnoses in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. As the identification of ASD becomes more common across the world, the month of April has become a designated observance for World Autism Month. 

The autism advocacy organization founded in 2005, Autism Speaks, established World Autism Month to focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support. The month begins with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and continues to emphasize the power to foster kindness within communities.

The Light It Up Blue initiative was created by Autism Speaks in 2010. Since that time, joined by the international autism community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world light blue on April 2 for World Autism Awareness Day and in recognition of people with autism.

During the remainder of April, Autism Speaks encourages and empowers others to lead, learn, connect, care and give with kindness. To aid the organization in achieving this goal, people are asked to support funding research for individuals who benefit from better treatments of medical conditions that often accompany autism. They can also choose to participate in the #LearnWithKindness initiative for schools to celebrate and support acceptance, understanding and inclusion with daily acts of kindness.

The #LearnWithKindness campaign asks that each day, participants reveal a kindness or fundraising challenge on a fun, interactive school or work calendar. This initiative is designed to work in virtual, in-person or hybrid settings, where everyone will love completing daily activities and reaching fundraising milestones to earn Autism Speaks “kindness swag.” Register for the campaign here.

Although this campaign is a great way to observe World Autism Month, kindness is always in season. That is why the #LearnWithKindness campaign lasts throughout the year entirely, helping propel the world one step closer toward becoming a place where all people with autism can reach their full potential. Other ways people can support the autism community include:

  • Committing to take action toward a kinder world.
  • Sharing resources and stories on social media to increase understanding and acceptance.
  • Advocating to help advance policies that positively impact the autism community.
  • Starting a kindness campaign at school or work.

More about Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The organization does this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Autism Speaks currently employs and engages autistic people, parents, relatives, professionals and representatives who have experience and knowledge of autism. The organization also advocates for research advancements that improve the quality of life for autistic people and empower appropriate and personalized treatments or therapies in the future. Autism Speaks wants all voices in the community to be heard throughout the work done to fulfill the organizational mission.