April is Autism Awareness Month. Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. will be devoting our blog to raising awareness on how to keep our families with autism safe.
Keeping children safe is a priority for all parents and caregivers, however, according to a survey conducted by the National Autism Association (NAA), the fear that their children will wander is a major concern of 92% of families with autistic loved ones. There are ways to keep your autistic children safe. This comprehensive list, compiled by Safe and Sound Family, includes tips on how these families can keep their autistic children safe:
Know Your Child: Understanding wandering patterns and eliminating triggers is your first step.
-Determine which type of wandering best describes your child
-Recognize what triggers the wandering incidents. If it is a goal, allow the child to explore the goal in a safe and supervised manner (for example, if the child’s goal is to get to water, schedule a time for water play each day). If it is to escape something, address the issue (for example, there may be too much noise at a certain time of day that the child is trying to get away from).
-Develop and implement strategies to help your child deal with his triggers in a way that helps him to cope with the trigger rather than running away.
-Include known triggers in your child’s IEP so that he may work on calming techniques with the appropriate school personnel.
-Acquire appropriate social stories and review them with your child.
Share With Others: Share your child’s goal, fascination, or need to escape with all people who are involved in your child’s daily routine to aid them in preventing your child from wandering.
-Contact a professional locksmith, security company, or home improvement professional to promote safety and prevention in your home.
-Have your child wear an ID bracelet or necklace that includes your name, telephone number, and other important information. If your autistic child will not wear a bracelet or necklace, consider a temporary tattoo.
-Teach your child to swim, but remember that teaching a child to swim does not mean he is safe in or near water.
-Introduce your neighbors to your autistic child and provide a photograph with your name, address, and phone number so they can call you immediately if they see your child outside of your home.
-Provide first responders with key information on handouts (you should distribute these to your family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers as well): include the name, age, and physical description of your autistic child as well as his favorite song, toy, or character so the first responders are able to communicate with and calm your child more easily.
These are just some of the things families with autistic children can do to help keep them from wandering. Please take a moment to review this list, as well as other resources including Safe and Sound Families and Autism Speaks, for more information on how to keep your autistic child safe.
*Please join Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. for our “Hope Without Boundaries” 5K Run/Walk at the National Harbor on Saturday, June 4th. Click here to register.
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