In the Primary Phase, there are many reports within the Autistic Girls Network Group where the topic of The Great Fire of London (usually introduced in Key Stage 1 in England) has caused significant issues with regard to fire-related phobia.
Examples given by members relate to profound fear of fire, fire escapes, fire alarms, death, destruction, safety of self, family members and pets which can last for years. The concerns and anxieties related to fire can impact the whole household, including places that can be visited, sleep, hypervigilance, cooking, heating and so on.
For the young person themselves, it is important to ‘locate’ the Great Fire of London in a specific time, and to acknowledge that much has changed since then. In fact, the Great Fire itself led to many changes in the structure of city design. Additionally, whilst fire safety vigilance is of course a requirement of daily life, the introduction of smoke detectors, fire escapes, building materials and a highly advanced Fire Service mean that fire-based risks are massively diminished.
It is important to note that many neurodivergent people have hearing differences and sensory issues which mean fire alarms can cause pain, and leave them dysregulated for a significant amount of time afterwards – see section on Hyperacusis and Misophonia.