Autism And Child Safety Essay

2066 words - 9 pages

It can be a parent's worst nightmare... One moment your child is with you, and the next moment you can’t find them. These concerns can be especially scary when you have a child who has difficulties with communicating, socializing, and other restricted or repetitive behaviors. Together, impairments in these three areas define autism.[1]

There can be safety risks which accompany an autism diagnosis. For example, children with autism are more likely to wander.[2] Children with autism may also have increased vulnerability to stranger abductions[3], and may be more likely ingest dangerous household chemicals (for example, cleaning supplies) and medicine. Throughout my career, many families ...view middle of the document...

The results of the study indicated that over half of the parents reported that their child wandering or bolting was extremely stressful for them and that they did not have the knowledge to address the behavior.[4] Fortunately, there are lots of things that parents can do to empower their children and minimize this risk.

When in public places, keep your child in close proximity to you.
Door Alarms
You can put alarms on doors so that you can be alerted if your child opens them.
Communicate with School Officials and Staff
Work with your school or other childcare providers to ensure that all personnel know about your child’s needs. For example, share whether your child is nonverbal, if your child doesn’t respond to their name being called, or if your child is likely to wander.
Think about why your child may be wandering. For example - is your child wandering to get access to something, to avoid something, or to get someone’s attention? Based on considerations for why your child may wander, you may be able to teach your child skills which can “replace” wandering. For example, you may be able to teach your child to ask to go to the park inside of trying to run across the street to get there, to ask for help in school instead of trying to leave the classroom, or to ask someone to play instead of running away to get their attention.
Provide Focused Guidance
Teach your child safety instructions - for example, responding to the word stop. Teach your child how to stay safe in dangerous places - for example, holding your hand. Teach your child to ask permission to leave before crossing a threshold - for example, going through the door which leads to the outside of your home.
Tracking Device
You may want to consider using a personal GPS tracking device. Current personal tracking technology can help law enforcement officials locate a missing person who is wearing a personal GPS tracking device.

Minimizing the Risk of Stranger Abduction
Given the key impairments in social and communication skills, children with autism may be more likely to respond to attempts to be lured by strangers.[5] Here are some key steps that parents can take to help minimize the risk of stranger danger:

When in public places, keep your child in close proximity to you.
School Safety Plan
This plan may include determining who will watch your child at recess (for example, an Educational Assistant or a recess monitor) and a plan to educate all personnel on your child's specialized needs (for example, how your child communicates, what types of instructions your child understands and doesn't understand).
Teach your child to know who is a stranger and who is a familiar person. One way you could teach this skill is by presenting pictures of family members and friends versus random pictures of people that your child would not be familiar with. First label the pictures (for...

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