My Son Was Hacked! Let’s Talk Autism and Internet Safety

A few mornings ago, my son knocked on the bathroom door to excitedly tell me he was chatting with “Him”. Naturally the next words out of my mouth were, “Who’s THAT?!”

He explained that he was just surfing the web and a random chat window popped up, not associated with any instant messaging or gaming program. He told me the person’s name was “Him” and that he had a funny whisper voice.

Of course I immediately wanted to know what things my son said to “Him” – did he tell him his real name, where we live, how old he is? We have been over many, many social stories regarding Internet safety myriad times.

Justin started crying, revealing that he told the mysterious chat guy that he was 10, which broke one of our family rules. I comforted him (amazed at his reaction to a broken rule – this is HUGE and NEW!!) but also dug further into the situation. Three things that “Him” said really alerted me:

“Don’t be scared”

“I can hear you speaking”

“How old are you?”

The chat window disappeared, and I told Justin to take a screenshot and send it to me if it popped up again. In the meantime we searched his computer for programs that didn’t seem to belong but I could find nothing. (I’m a Mac person… didn’t really know what to look for but hoped it would be obvious!)

That afternoon when I came home, Justin told me that “Him” opened a new chat window and tried to engage him in conversation. When my son wouldn’t comply the creep opened my son’s CD drive! Wha? He had remote access? The next thing you know he hid the task bar and all my son’s desktop icons.

I had him shut down immediately.

Luckily, the dog and pony show of hiding icons and opening a CD drive was the worst activity that we saw. “Him” could have locked up my son’s computer, changed passwords, or worse – turned on his webcam and watched! Ironically, it was my son that found a Remote Access Permission setting in the Control Panel and disabled it. We believe that stopped “Him”.

However, with all the items Justin downloads on a regular basis, this (or worse!) could happen again.

So how do you protect a child that figured out how to write custom code and change online video games, film his screen while walking through his tutorial process and post how-to videos on YouTube by himself?

The FBI website has some great general Internet Safety Tips for Kids. To simplify for children with Autism, I created this:


How about you? What safety tools do you have in place for your children? Share by commenting below or posting to the SOA Facebook page!

7 thoughts on “My Son Was Hacked! Let’s Talk Autism and Internet Safety

  1. Katrina Moody says:

    Debi –

    Great post, though I am freaked out on your behalf! My middle son especially is really beginning to use the internet, and even though we are 99% of the time right there with him it still worries me sometimes. I love how you simplified the “rules” – while this is important for all kids, those on the spectrum need easily defined and manageable rules better than anyone else! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Debi Taylor says:

      Hey, Katrina! Thanks so much for sharing your comment. It’s a frightening new world out there for our children… we can’t control the outside so keeping our babies armed with simple tools and rules is the best way to protect them <3

  2. Coach Comeback says:

    HI Debi! I dunno if you have been keeping up but I have been having one heck of a year (not in a good way).

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I am still thinking about you and still looking forward to connecting with you as soon as I can get some air again!

    Hope you are doing well. Glad to see you are still writing!

    Great advice that could apply to everyone honestly.

    Ironically, me getting hacked was actually the source of my downward spiral!

    Funny how that works.


    • Debi Taylor says:

      Hi, James! Good to hear from you… I’m so sorry you are having a challenging year. I hope you are able to rebuild swiftly! Thanks for sharing your comments… talk soon!

  3. Chris Smalling says:

    I think that most people should not underestimate the internet, however its important to not over estimate it.

    I myself am a computer hacker, the white hat kind.

    If worst comes to worst you can always reinstall the OS.

    Make sure your system is always patched with the latest fixes and of course,

    Open up the task manager and see what the chat window called and who’s administered it and its pid.

    Oh! and if he hides the explorer you can hit cntrl alt dlt to bring up the start options, start the task manager, and then run the procces explorer .exe

    also you can start in safe mode to find the hacker…

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