Autism is considered the fastest growing developmental disability, as it now affects one in every 100 children.A top concern among parents caring for a child with autism is wandering or “bolting.” Tragically, children with autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds, and lakes and, drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism.
As part of its education initiative to help protect children with autism and in recognition that April is National Autism Awareness Month, SafetyNet offers the following tips from expert John Paul Marosy, General Manager of SafetyNet:
- Advise Local First Responders – Fill out a 9-1-1 Disability Indicator Form and submit it to your local law enforcement agency, which will alert police during an emergency that a person residing at that address may require special assistance.
- Inform Your Neighbors – Give them a handout with a picture of your child, physical characteristics, emergency contact information and details about how to effectively approach/communicate with and calm your child.
- Place STOP or DO NOT ENTER signs on doors – These powerful visual cues and reminders can help stop a child from bolting.
- Secure Your Home – Use deadbolt locks, keep doors and windows locked and install an alarm system/alert chimes on doors. Consider motion detectors and window bars.
- Teach Your Child to Swim – Because people with autism are drawn to water, such as pools, ponds and lakes, swimming lessons can be invaluable.
- Eliminate Triggers for Wandering – If your child has a fixation on certain sounds or objects that draw him/her to investigate and wander, eliminate those distractions.
- Get an ID Bracelet/Necklace – List emergency contact information on personal IDs and on tags for personal belongings.
- Use a Monitor/Camera at Bedtime – A sound or video monitor provides constant surveillance, even when you are in a different room.
- Install a Fence – Set latches high and out of reach on the outside of gates.
- Consider a Personal Tracking Device – A Radio Frequency device is ideal for people at risk of wandering because it has strong, silent signals that operate even if the child has wandered into a body of water, dense foliage, concrete garage or steel structure.