Child Safety and Autism
Autism brings a whole new risk factor to child safety. Autistic kids wander. Some may not respond to their names being called. Some may be too trusting of strangers. Some may be awake at night when the rest of the house is sleeping. Whatever the issue, keeping our autistic children safe can be a nightmare. Here are a few tools that may help. (Not to be construed as an exhaustive list. Please use common sense to keep your children safe.)
Child Safety Tips
- Make sure you have a way to discern when your child has left the house. We added a battery operated doorbell chime (available at radioshack) to our front and back doors. It did drive everyone nuts, but I could tell when the door opened and closed. Down side: Will not always sense a person crossing a threshold if someone leaves the door open.
- Keep pool safety a priority. Refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics pool safety tips . Various companies make magnetic gate latches that automatically close and require adult strength to open. We used a top loading spring lever gate latch (which I can't find any longer) which worked, but only if an adult closed it first. Which is why a magnetic adult latch is preferable. My cousin's child silently drowned in a pool while my cousin was standing behind a grill cooking. The grill obstructed her view, but she will never forget how silently a child can drown. At it needed was for him to take off his floaties and go in the pool on his own. She was less than fifteen feet away. Pools and autistic kids are a big risk. Think it over carefully before you commit to one. We also used a Safety Turtle device whenever we went to a pool or lake. The safety turtle consists of an alarm on a bracelet that you put on your child. If the child gets the bracelet wet in the range of the base unit, the base unit will sound an alarm. It gave us peace of mind and seemed to be a good product.
- Identification Badges. For your little wanderer, consider an ID badge such as Who's Shoes. Of course, if your child takes his shoes off, this wouldn't be the product for you.
- GPS Locators. If your child is an escape artist, you may consider a GPS locator device. Some can be worn as a bracelet. Others can fix to your child's clothes. The drawback: They only work as well as you do. If you fail to attach them to your child, they are useless. Also, if your child strips, good luck.
- Child Safety Videos. There are a number of excellent child safety videos on the market. Our favorites are these:
This video teaches the concept of stranger safety and how to recognize a dangerous situation. This video was created by Julie Clark, founder of the Baby Einstein Company and John Walsh of America's Most Wanted.
This video helps kids develop the capacity to escape an abductor. While the Safe Side Stranger Safety video helps you avoid abduction, this video helps you keep the abductor from succeeding. These videos are two must have's for families with and without spectrum children. For more information, go to The Safe Side.com and kidescape.org