5 Summer Safety Tips

Keeping a child with autism safe is a full time job for caregivers.  When summer arrives, a whole new list of things to worry about pops up: New babysitter, new routines, camp, pools, playgrounds, and the ever popular Ice Cream Truck.

Here are 5 tips on keeping your child with autism safe this summer:

  1. Talk to Your “New” Neighbors: It’s safe to assume your neighbors already know about your child. But what if you rent a cottage or beach house on vacation this summer?  Go over to talk to those “new” neighbors. Give them a handout with a picture of your child and emergency contact information.  You may also want to describe your child’s fears and effective ways to approach, communicate and calm your child. Ask them to contact you immediately if they see a child wandering away without supervision. Take note of your surroundings: Does the cottage next door have a hot tub or a swing set?  These are potential places your child might be found.
  2. Stress the Need for Constant Supervision to New Babysitters: Make sure any new caregiver or babysitter understands that your child will wander away and needs supervision at all times while playing, regardless if it’s inside or out.  Fairly innocent things can trigger an elopement: a new playground, a fire engine driving by, or perhaps the Ice Cream Truck just pulled up.  Children with autism will cross a street without looking both ways so the caregiver will definitely need to walk your child (regardless of his/her age) across the street to get that Popsicle. Consider buying a harness if the caregiver seems reluctant to take your child outside due to the possibility of wandering. Harnesses are a choice only the parent can make. Make sure you buy one that both you and your child are happy with.
  3. Special Diet Awareness: Speaking of Popsicles, alert any caregivers or camps of your child’s special diet such as gluten free.  Fridge locks are also a good idea. If unsupervised for even a short time, a child could potentially eat something out of the refrigerator that could make them sick, such as raw food. A fridge lock would prevent that from happening. And just to be safe, have the Poison Control Emergency Number (1-800-222-1222) posted throughout the house in places where it cannot be easily removed or misplaced. Your child could ingest anything from aluminum foil to baby powder and Poison Control can help any panicky caregiver.
  4. Teach Swimming at an Early Age: People with autism are drawn to water sources such as pools, ponds and lakes.  Statistics show that accidental drowning is the leading cause of death for autistic children and adults.  Swimming lessons could prove to be invaluable. However, small children can tire easily so even if they know how to swim they may not be able to do it for very long.  Assist child in and out of the pool. If the choice were theirs, they would just walk straight into the deep end. See tip #2 about constant supervision!!
  5. Consider a Personal Tracking Device:  A Radio Frequency (RF) device, such as SafetyNet, is ideal for people at risk of wandering, because it has strong signals that can penetrate any physical obstruction.  With an RF device, you child can be found in places that a GPS or cellular product cannot reach, such as in a wooded area or concrete building. And it’s waterproof!

Summer Safety and Children with Autism

It’s never too soon to start thinking about summer, especially here in the Northeast, where it has rained every day for the past week! Care2.com recently did a post on thinking about the needs associated with a child with autism and their transition to summer, especially when it comes to the issue of summer safety. At SafetyNet, we’ve recorded a podcast that addresses several topics related to summer safety and children with autism. Take a listen.  What are some of the protective measures that you take to help keep loved ones safe from wandering, particularly during the summer?

Petition Aims to Keep Loved Ones Safe from Wandering-Related Injuries and Death

change.org

The ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee is considering a proposal that would create a medical diagnostic code for wandering. There is a petition available to sign and show support. Here are just a few reasons why a medical diagnostic code will help protect at-risk individuals with a history of wandering:

- Physicians are largely unaware of this issue; therefore, cannot provide prevention materials or advice. A diagnostic code will increase awareness, advice and prevention-material distribution.

– A diagnostic code will allow for data collection on the incidence of wandering, thereby increasing opportunities for prevention, education for doctors, caregivers, school administrators and staff, first responders/search personnel.

- Many nonverbal ASD individuals are unable to respond to their name when called. We feel a diagnosis code will lead to increased awareness and the development of emergency search-and-rescue response protocols.

- We believe a medical code will enhance schools’ understanding of wandering so that children with a history of wandering will be better protected. Currently, wandering is not looked at as a medical condition, but one of choice or bad behavior. This has lead to a lack of school training, prevention and emergency response. In January alone, two children with autism went missing from their schools.

- Children and adults with ASD who suddenly flee, bolt or run because of a trigger are at greater risk of restraint or seclusion. We believe a medical code will help establish safe protocols that work to eliminate triggers, thereby eliminating the need for restraint.

- We’ve seen reports of parents locking/secluding children in their rooms to keep them from wandering outside. While this is anecdotal information, we believe parents, schools and other care providers need better solutions. A medical code has enormous potential to help provide safe alternatives.

- We believe every disabled individual with a history of wandering — who is at serious risk of injury, trauma or death — should have access to safety devices and prevention materials regardless of the caregiver’s income. A medical code for wandering could potentially provide insurance coverage for those unable to afford critical protections for their children/adults.

You can visit change.org to sign the petition or to submit a personal or organizational letter.

via http://www.change.org/petitions/keep-our-loved-ones-safe-from-wandering-related-injuries-and-death-4#signatures?opt_new=t&opt_fb=t

New book, ‘Autism Tomorrow,’ helps parents guide autistic children into adulthood

Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Tony Attwood and 14 other autism experts contributed advice in a new book on facing adulthood with autism. The book, “Autism Tomorrow: The Complete Guide to Help Your Child Thrive in the Real World,” addresses independent living, employment, puberty, sexuality, bullying, social skills, communication, financial planning and more.

Autism Today, a leading autism spectrum disorder education and awareness organization, announced that the unique comprehensive book, “Autism Tomorrow, The Complete Guide to Help Your Child Thrive in the Real World,” is now available. The book is a compilation of advice from leading experts in autism spectrum disorders with each author adding valuable insight to help parents, care providers and educators guide children into adulthood.

via Essential New Book, ‘Autism Tomorrow’, Helps Children Transition into Adulthood.

SafetyNet Philadelphia leadership forum on wandering, safety

Pictured (from left to right) are John Paul Marosy, LoJack SafetyNet; Councilman-at-large Jack Kelly; Mayor Michael A. Nutter; Kathy Kelleher, LoJack SafetyNet; Michael Tuckerman, Founder of Keeping Individuals Safe and Sound (KISS); and Michal Fandel, LoJack SafetyNet.

Pictured (from left to right) are John Paul Marosy, SafetyNet; Councilman-at-large Jack Kelly; Mayor Michael A. Nutter; Kathy Kelleher, SafetyNet; Michael Tuckerman, Founder of Keeping Individuals Safe and Sound (KISS); and Michal Fandel, SafetyNet.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and City Councilman-at-Large Jack Kelly spoke at a Leadership Forum on Assuring the Safety of Persons Who Wander sponsored by SafetyNet on April 29.  More than 50 leaders from healthcare and human service agencies in the Philadelphia area gathered for the event. Mayor Nutter praised the progress of the city-wide public-private partnership involving the city’s police department and community organizations.  Police Commissioner Ramsey echoed the Mayor’s comments and praised Councilman-at-Large Jack Kelly and parent/activist Michael Tuckerman for bringing the service to the city.

JohnPaulMarosy

John Paul Marosy of SafetyNet

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter

New guidelines issued on elderly driving after dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Having mild dementia is no longer a reason to take away an elderly person’s car keys, according to newly revised guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology.

Citing new evidence that 76 percent of drivers with dementia could still pass on-road skills tests, the AAN changed guidelines that previously discouraged any driving once someone was diagnosed with mild dementia or Alzheimer’s. The updated guidelines were unveiled an the AAN’s annual meeting in Toronto.

via New Guidelines Issed On Elderly Driving After Dementia Or Alzheimer’s Diagnosis – ABC News.

Fire safety book for children with autism

The National Fire Protection Association has a new fire safety book for children with autism. It has been reviewed by autism educators and encourages parents to develop a fire safety plan with their autistic kids. Here’s a report from KOTV:

QUINCY, MASS – A new, interactive fire safety book has been designed to help children with autism spectrum disorder respond appropriately to the sound of a smoke alarm.

“I Know My Fire Safety Plan,” produced by The National Fire Protection Association NFPA, can also be helpful to children with other developmental disabilities, according to Lisa Braxton of the NFPA public education project.

“Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability. It is important that we reach children on the autism spectrum and encourage parents and caregivers to use this new NFPA educational tool to help children understand what they should do to escape safely when they hear the smoke alarm sound,” Braxton said.

The book uses easy-to-follow steps in a story format, acknowledging the apprehension children with autism may feel at the sound of a smoke alarm or presence of fire trucks and firefighters.

via Fire Safety Book Designed For Kids With Autism – NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |.

Understanding and preventing Alzheimer’s wandering

Alzheimer’s disease can erase a person’s memory of once-familiar surroundings and make adaptation to new surroundings extremely difficult. As a result, people with Alzheimer’s sometimes wander away from their homes or care centers and turn up — lost, frightened and disoriented — far from where they started, often long after they disappeared.

Three out of four people with Alzheimer’s will wander at some point during the course of the disease. Wanderers who get lost outdoors may become injured or even die of exposure. This risk increases dramatically if the weather is very cold or very hot.

via Alzheimer’s: Understand and control wandering – MayoClinic.com.

Keeping Alzheimer’s patients safe from life-threatening wandering

This winter, a number of Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. and Canada have died while wandering — either by getting hit by cars or freezing to death.

SafetyNet General Manager John Paul Marosy, elder care expert and author of several caregiver books,  offers the following advice, “There is no one single strategy that can protect loved ones with Alzheimer’s from wandering.The most effective approach involves multiple strategies, which in combination deliver the best protection for the person with Alzheimer’s and peace of mind for the caregiver.”

TIPS:  Here is Marosy’s 10 Step Approach:

PROVIDE INFORMATION TO HELP WITH SEARCH AND RESCUE:

  • Advise Local Responders First – Fill out a 911 disability indicator form and submit it to your local law enforcement agency.  The information on the form alerts law enforcement that a person residing at that address may require special assistance during an emergency.  Also, fill out a more detailed handout with this information that you can provide to first responders and search and rescue personnel in the event of a wandering incident.
  • Inform Your Neighbors – Give your neighbors a similar handout with a picture of the person you are caring for, physical characteristics and emergency contact information.  You may want to describe the person’s fears, habits and explain how to best communicate with and calm them.  Ask them to contact you immediately if they see this person wandering outside their home.
  • Tag Personal Items – List emergency contact information on tags in shoes and on clothing in case your loved one does wander.

SAFEGUARD THE LIVING SPACE – INSIDE AND OUT

  • Hide Triggers that Might Encourage Departure – Remove items such as hats, coats, boots, scarves, keys and suitcases that may  prompt your loved one to go outside.
  • Hang a “Do Not Enter” Sign on the Door – This sign may help redirect and discourage the wanderer from opening the door.
  • Install a Fence Around Your Property – Set latches on the outside of gates and ensure they are in an area where the person you are caring for can’t reach them.
  • Use Simple Monitors, Remote Alerts and Locks – Attach monitors to the door that detects when it opens; use a caregiver chime alert unit, which sounds when the door is open; combine these with locks on all doors including front, garage and basement.

REGISTER AND/OR ENROLL IN PROGRAMS THAT PROMOTE A SAFE RESCUE

  • Register Your Loved One’s Information – With information registered in a secure database, such as the National Silver Alert Program, emergency responders are provided with critical information necessary in the event of a wandering incident or a medical emergency.
  • Consider an Identification Bracelet – An ID bracelet, like the one offered through the Alzheimer’s Association’s MedicAlert + Safe Return program, helps the police or a Good Samaritan get a missing person back home safely or medical attention.
  • Consider a Program that Offers a Personal Tracking Device – Programs that feature personal tracking devices, such as SafetyNet, are a good way to help protect and locate someone in the event they do wander and give peace of mind to a caregiver.  A Radio Frequency device is ideal for people at risk of wandering because, unlike GPS devices, it has strong signals that can penetrate water, dense foliage, concrete buildings and steel structures.

via Across The Country, Numerous Incidents Reported of People with Alzheimer’s Wandering Off and Tragically Dying — WESTWOOD, Mass., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ –.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia:Night-time wandering

What do you do if your husband just wants to go outside at night all the time?

For your husband’s safety and your own piece of mind, your best bet is to ensure that your home is locked up tightly at night so that your husband cannot easily leave. For this, deadbolts that lock from the inside are useful, so long as your husband does not have access to the key. Windows will also need to be secured by some sort of locking mechanism for which only you have the key. Hang bells or other noisy things on the door handles, to alert you if he is trying to open a door. If your husband’s vision is poor, you can also try placing rugs with large dark-colored block designs in front of door exits. Dementia patients with poor vision can mistake the 2-dimensional floor objects for solid 3-dimensional objects or holes in the ground, and are deterred from crossing them. Motion-activated lights, such as are often installed outside, can be used indoors as another deterrent for the door exit area. However, it is important to keep in mind that these measures, while deterring your husband from exiting, may also serve to confuse or agitate him. So you may still need to guide him safely back to bed after he has “triggered” a safety mechanism.