Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Safety Guy Living Up To His Nickname

Policeman With Truncheon

As I've written many times before, Safety Guy is a young man of many interests - obsessions, really.  That's just par for the Aspergers course.  Some people with AS stick with a single deep interest for a long time, even lifelong, while others range widely and become "pocket experts" on a number of things.  Safety Guy is in the latter category.  His interests have been many over the years, and he cycles through them irregularly.  Quite a few of his obsessions are interrelated, like natural disasters, weather, and public safety.  We've tried to encourage and direct his interests in ways that will help him decide where his strengths are and what might be good career choices for him in the future.

One difficult thing with Safety Guy's deep interest in police work and public safety is that his Aspergers does not make him the best candidate for being a street officer.  Police on the street need to be very people-savvy, able to quickly read wide-ranging situations including every imaginable physical or social cue, some in life or death circumstances.  Safety Guy is not that adept at such "people reading" - heck, it's a fundamental criteria for his Aspergers diagnosis.  But we haven't squelched his interest in a criminal justice career.  Instead, we've tried to encourage him in ways he could pursue such an interest successfully.  He may consider forensics (a current interest of his), or fire safety (inspector or alarm system specialist), or other related disciplines.

His current YouTube watching has consisted of real-life forensics shows (like Solved), and reenacted rescue shows (like Rescue 911).  He's also discovered a video game where the player takes the role of 911 dispatcher for a city.  The game is Emergency 3 (and also Emergency 4, which is much harder to find), for a PC platform.  Once again, a community of people on YouTube record and upload their games, which can be quite involved.  Hostage crises, accidents of all kinds, fires, police chases, natural disasters, riots, you name it, it's possible in the game, in multiple cities across the country (and globally, in Emergency 4).  It's really a fascinating game, made in part by the makers of the SimCity franchise.  If Safety Guy doesn't buy it himself in the next couple months, he'll probably get it for his birthday.

Safety Guy's interests came a bit close to real life on our long drive home from a family visit over the weekend.  As we got off the highway onto a secondary road, traveling through the hills of Central NY, we found ourselves behind a large pickup truck.  It quickly became apparent that the driver wasn't fully in control of their faculties, because the truck frequently swerved over the road lines, both to the center and to the side, and his speed was erratic.  A couple times we were afraid we were going to witness a head-on collision as he drifted over the center line.  The driver also would not let anyone pass him when the brief passing lanes came up - he'd drive down the middle of both lanes.  After watching this for a little while, we decided to call 911 and report the driver's license plate and location, so the police would be aware of the situation.  Safety Guy was quite interested in the proceedings, and a little bit freaked out by the driver's actions (after all, SG watches crash and rescue videos all the time - he could anticipate what could happen if the driver went just a little too far over the line).

While my husband drove a safe distance behind the truck, I called 911 and let them know what was going on, and Safety Guy made a point of getting out our little car first aid kit, just in case it was needed.  He was nervous but ready to jump in to help if needed - I was quite proud of him.  The dispatcher said he didn't have a unit nearby, but would get the information out so the police could keep an eye out for them.  We didn't see if the driver was ever pulled over.  We eventually diverged from the truck in a larger town.  We hope that the driver made it home safely, whether or not they were ever pulled over.  It was an instructive situation for Safety Guy.

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