For most, home is a safe haven. As a parent of an autistic child, you know that your home is more than just that for your family. Trips to the park or the zoo or even the grocery store can take time, precaution, and planning. Though there are extra steps involved, there are things you can do to protect your autistic child—regardless of the environment.
Securing the Home
Your home should be equipped with different safety than that for a non-autistic child. Always lock doors from the outside when no one is occupying them and use special latches for bathroom doors. Make sure that your child cannot access your attic, basement, or garage area either.
Typical safety items—similar to those you would use for a toddler—should be in place as well. These can include toilet locks, cabinet locks, non-pitch drawer closers, electrical outlet covers, and securing tall furniture items to the wall.
Here are some specific areas to consider if you want to help ensure your autistic child remains safe in and around the home:
- Your child’s bedroom: Children with autism have a tendency to wander in the middle of the night. Secure his room by locking the door from the outside or placing a baby gate at the door. Though it may feel like you are imprisoning your child, this is for his safety and best interest.
- Furniture: Furniture should be kept away from doors and windows at all times. If your child runs through the room at unpredictable rates, consider arranging furniture so he cannot escape the room before you do.
- Windows: Autistic children have a tendency to climb out of windows—especially if they are left open. Install window locks. If your child bangs or hits the windows, replace them with Plexiglas models to prevent injury.
- Alarms: Though your home is safe on the inside, you want to make sure you know when people are coming or going from the home. Door chimes are inexpensive and can be placed over your entrance door to alert you if your child has left the home.
- Fencing: Children with autism enjoy being outside and playing. Therefore, protect them in their own backyard by installing a fence with a locking gate. This allows him to play outside and provides your family with a little added security.
Wandering Away Risks
Autistic children are at high-risk for wandering or running away. Because they enjoy motion and the outdoors, autistic children are constantly on the move and wandering to new things to explore. It is important to protect your child by eliminating ways to exit your home. When in public, make sure to keep an eye on him. Since children with autism have difficulty communicating, make sure that you always have a form of identification on your child when you are away from home so that he can be identified by authorities.
Though you may feel like you cannot take your child anywhere, organizations like ASDF provide financial assistance to provide autistic children with opportunities to get out into the world and socialize in productive and positive ways. From swim classes to specialized life and social skills camps, parents can let their children roam and explore while under the supervision of a team of experts who are trained to help children with autism grow and prosper.
If you have a child with autism and want to learn about programs that can help, visit www.myASDF.org. ASDF is a charity that supports children with autism spectrum disorders by providing education, information, and financial assistance to their families and relevant community service organizations. Funds donated to ASDF are used to address any and all kinds of issues in assisting children with autism and their families. Visit www.myASDF.org, email [email protected], or call 877.806.0635 for more information and to see how you can help.