It is vitally important that all people have a safe place. This is especially so for learning disabled (LD) people, who may experience the world as much less safe than most neurotypical (NT) people do. A safe place is one where the person is safe not just from physical harm, but from emotional harm as well. A safe place is somewhat different for children and adults.
For many LD people, the world is harsh. People can be intentionally cruel, they can also be unintentionally cruel. The former would be when a person is teased or bullied (either in person or via the net; either physically or emotionally). The latter occurs when people bring to mind the problems the person is having. Both can occur in other situations as well. A safe place is free from these dangers.
More than this, though, for many disabled people the world is hard. In fact, that is almost the definition of a disability: A disabled person (LD or physical disability) is unable to do easily what normal people can do easily. He or she may be unable to do it at all; or it may simply require more effort. Both are exhausting, emotionally. A safe place is one where this hardness is minimized, as well.
The exact nature of safety will vary from person to person as well; for a blind person, safety would perhaps concentrate on the physical nature of the space, and the sameness of the placement of physical objects. If a blind person knows exactly where things are, then he or she can navigate that space more comfortably and with less effort, and with much less risk of tripping, banging or breaking. For some LD people, safety will involve a lack of noise. For others, it will involve minimal visual distractions. But for all, it will involve emotional safety.
What can a safe place be?
For some, it can be home. For a child, if the parents set up the home so that it is safe, and are able to be emotionally safe for their child, then the home can be a safe place. But this requires a special set of abilities and efforts on the part of the parents. If there are other children in the family, that can make it harder, as parents have to devote time to all their children (and to themselves, as well!). No parents are superhuman; and some are, themselves, troubled with issues that make it hard for them to provide safety to others.
Adults can sometimes set up their own homes as safe places.
If the entire home cannot be made safe, it may be possible to make one portion of it a safe place.
However, some parents may be unable, for various reasons, to make any part of the home really safe. In this case, it may be necessary to find some alternative place. This can take a variety of forms. It could be a therapist’s office; it could be a relative’s home, or the home of a close friend of the family, or of the child. There are lots of possibilities.
Or a safe place could be something else entirely, depending on what disability is involved. It could involve:
- A particular kind of lighting
- A place where you provide your own food
- Control of position (that is, whether you are standing or sitting or lying down, and in what particular position)
- Available care and communication
But without a safe place, the person must be constantly on guard against all the many dangers of the world. That’s a horrible way to grow up and a horrible way to live; it stultifies and damages and prevents growth.