When it comes to safety for autism, preparation is essential. And prevention is key to avoiding disaster.
I know it may be tempting to think, “I’ll definitely think about safety later. I’ve just got too much going on right now.”
I hear you and I understand. As a parent of a child with autism, I know exactly what it’s like to be overwhelmed with so much to do and so little time to get it done.
But we need to understand that putting off safety just one day too long could be disastrous. And I don’t want disaster to happen to anyone.
It’s a well-known fact that children with autism have a higher mortality rate than typical or non-disabled children. They are more prone to wandering from home and once they are away from supervision they are vulnerable to danger.
I’m sure I don’t have to convince you that many children with autism can be a danger to themselves. They are unable to see the dangers that are obvious to typical people like you and me.
Consider the mother of a boy I'll call Michael, a young man with severe autism. Michael had never run out of the house before in the entire 21 years of his life. And yet, one day when he had a severe OCD attack, he bolted out the door.
Fortunately, when they had moved into that house years earlier, his mother had installed an alarm system that would sound if any doors or windows were opened. She knew that the fact that he had never wandered from home before didn't mean that he never would. Better safe than sorry, she reasoned.
On the day he first escaped, the alarm sounded while she was doing the dishes. Without even taking the time to set the dish down, she ran out the door after him.
As she followed him with dish in hand, screaming for him to come back, she feared the worst since he could obviously outrun her. Would he be running toward the nearby freeway and into traffic?
Fortunately, he didn’t head for the freeway, but instead stopped at the end of the street and came back to her. It was a close call, and she resolved to find a way to keep this from happening again.
This is a true story that underscores the serious need to look at our homes and at other places where our children spend time, and arrange those environments with safety for autism in mind.
My own son still doesn’t understand the importance of watching for cars before crossing a street. I still have to remind him to look both ways and to make sure no cars are approaching before we cross. He even seems impatient with the idea and often wants to hurry across when I’m forcing him to wait for cars to pass.
I’d like to consider this article a gentle reminder for all of us. We all need to evaluate our homes and any other places where our children spend a lot of time, and find out what safety precautions we must take.
In the following articles I’ll be addressing different safety tips to help keep our kids out of harm’s way. It’s obviously well worth the time to evaluate what safety precautions are lacking in our homes and schools and to take the steps necessary to keep our precious children safe.
Some of our kids tend to wander off or even run away. And others may have no issues at all with wandering for many years until one day all of a sudden they decide to bolt out of the house. This article outlines safety for autism tips you can learn to prevent tragedy from occurring.
The Autism Society has outlined some important information with more tips on how to keep your child and the rest of your family safe. You can find that article here.