Our children are excited as they approach their final countdown to summer vacation. We as parents have probably been planning our children’s vacation schedule since the beginning of April. I know I always did. Summer is a time when we are vacationing at the beach, visiting amusement parks, out and about and having fun. Even though summer is a fun and exciting few months, it is also a worrisome time because our children may have opportunities to wander.
As June is National Safety Month I hope to update everyone and increase awareness about this critical safety issue. Since I wrote my previous blogs (Children with ASD and Wandering, Safety Measures for a Wandering Child, Planning and Prevention Tips for Children with ASD and The Search for Avonte) on wandering there have been a number of new supports that have become available to decrease the dangers of wandering.
Why do children wander?
- Goal directed wandering: wandering with a purpose of getting something he/she wants
- Bolting / Fleeing wandering: running away out of fear, anxiety, excitement or stress
- Wandering due to boredom, confusion or simply becoming lost
What can you do as a parent to be prepared?
- National Autism Society has a Big Red Safety Toolkit that provides you with caregiver checklists, sample family wandering emergency plan, information sheet for first responders.
- They also have a toolkit for First Responders, which includes a checklist, resources and tips
- Tracking Devices: There are a couple of varieties. GPS depends upon satellites to provide positioning and navigation information. Project Lifesaver, CareTrak and LoJack SafetyNet are typically facilitated by local law enforcement and use radio frequency.
- GeoFencing: a feature in a software program that uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries. A geofence is a virtual barrier.
- Tracking devices alone should not be relied upon as the sole source of your loved one’s security. Close adult supervision, home security measures and other safety precautions should always be taken and routinely reassessed for updated when necessary.
- Teach your child to swim. Many YMCAs have swimming lessons for children with special needs. It is recommended that the final lesson should be with clothes and shoes on.
As we gear up for all of the fun activities I wish you a safe and happy summer. Ryan and I will be swimming, playing tennis, golfing and kayaking. I’m tired already.