The Four "F"s
When your brain thinks there is a threat it will send signals to your body to react to help keep you safe. This can happen when it is a real danger or if you think there is a danger but there is not.
There are different ways your body can react when your brain thinks there is a threat.
These are sometimes called the “Four F’s”.
- Fight: The brain and body prepare to attack. A person may look angry and ready to fight. They may yell at other people, pick fights, or have a bad temper.
- Flight: The brain and body prepare to get away. The brain and body prepare to run away or escape. A person may look anxious and afraid. They may try to avoid threats by staying away from people.
- Freeze: The brain and body “freeze”. A person may feel like they cannot move or respond. They may stare and “space out” or may feel sad or ashamed.
- Feign/Fawn: The brain and body worry about the next danger. A person may feel like they need to say “yes” and make people happy to avoid threats from other people. They may have a hard time setting healthy limits, rules, or boundaries for their own needs.
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.