Given that children with autism spectrum disorders often present with limited awareness of their surroundings and/or insight into the dangers in their environments, it can be helpful to provide interventions that work to keep kids safe.
Below are some resources and ideas regarding common safety tools for families:
• Basic Safety Skills
Examples of basic safety skills: Crossing the street, walking on the sidewalk, reading street signs, remaining within the yard at home, staying away from fire and/or hot items, riding on the bus and in the car, and interacting with pets and other animals. The do2Learn website has helpful tools (e.g., pictures, animated songs, printable books, and stories) for basic safety skills. From the home page, click on “products,” then “safety” for a menu of helpful options.
• Emergency Paperwork
Create a document that contains essential information about your child (e.g., name, contact information, diagnosis, pertinent health information [allergies, medications, etc.], contact information for the primary care physician, a recent color photograph and other information that would be useful in an emergency); this can be carried in the child’s backpack, should also be stored in a safe place at the child’s home, and should be taken when traveling or when in anyone else’s care (e.g., babysitter, nanny, etc.).
-Velcro I.D. bracelets, shoe I.D. tags, tracking devices, and temporary tattoos are sold at My Precious Kid.
-Soft silicone wristbands are also available at Kid Safety Band.
-The Autism ID Card helps individuals with autism spectrum explain their diagnosis to first responders and is available at Autism Id Card.
-Tracking devices can be purchased at the following websites:
-LoJack Safety Net
• Home Security
Deadbolts with key access on both sides, door alarms, home security system, hook/eye locks (installed above child’s reach), fences, and “stop” signs on exits (doors, gates, etc.) will be helpful in keeping your child within the parameters of your home and yard.
• Car safety
Safety seatbelt release covers (available at Angel Guard) and/or harnesses may help enhance safety and reduce the risk of dangerous behaviors while riding in cars or on the bus (DANDee Child Safety Harness).
Create a Wandering Emergency Plan for both home and school; Wandering Plans can be built into the child’s IEP. Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education provides tips and templates for Wandering Emergency Plans and IEP letters. Identification will be an important piece of preventing wandering-related accidents.
Teaching your child to swim will not prevent drowning-related accidents. Vigilant supervision and barriers (such as fencing and/or alarms, as well as personal floating devices (even if the child knows how to swim!) are crucial to preventing drowning. Neighbors who have pools should be informed of a child’s tendency to wander. Families are encouraged to get training in fist aid, live saving techniques, and CPR.
• Head Protection
Protective head gear is available for children who are learning to walk, are extremely accident prone, or other children with special needs at Kid Safety Hats.
• Stranger Awareness
The “Circle of Friends” or “Four Space Zones” curriculum may be helpful. Additionally, the following resources may be of help: Teaching Your Child the Language of Social Success, by Duke, Nowicki, and Martin.
• For More Information Related to Autism and Safety:
-ASA Safe and Sound Safety Initiative at Autism Society
-Autism Safety Initiative National Autism Association
• For more Safety Products:
• Service Dogs
-Service Dog World