Now that summer is finally upon us, I wanted to share a few tips that might make your days more carefree as you spend more time outdoors (at last!)
New to the neighborhood?
Summer can be a good time to reach out and get to know your neighbors. Plan a brief visit to your neighbor’s house, to introduce yourself and your child (a photo may also work). Take a few moments and describe some of the positive, as well as challenging, behaviors of your child. I always emphasized the issue of wandering and stressed that if a neighbor saw Ryan out by himself to engage him in conversation and walk him home. You can provide your neighbor with a simple handout that has your name, address, phone number, and emergency contact information.
Teach your child about water safety
Living in Erie, water safety is a critical issue. However, in any community, children with autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds, and lakes. Since most children with ASD are rule-driven, setting specific rules around how your child is to handle being around water can be relatively easy. Just make sure you practice those rules in real life situations. When Ryan started his swimming lessons at 2, he refused to put his head under water. Today, he swims laps in the LECOM pool an hour at a time.
Consider a Medical ID Bracelet or a personal tracking device
Depending upon your child’s age and verbal skills, you may want to purchase an ID Bracelet for your child. Include your name and telephone number and state that your child has autism. If your child will not wear a bracelet or necklace, a temporary tattoo with your contact information is another option.
Another option is a tracking device, a small unit that you can place in your child’s pocket or backpack. It works with your computer or mobile phone to allow you to monitor your child’s location. Others involve a handheld unit for the parent which tracks the location of the child’s wristband.
Some children with ASD act impulsively and may run away or wander. Using deadbolt locks, keeping doors and windows locked and installing an alarm on doors are some ways to help prevent wandering while indoors. For children who respond well to visual cues, consider placing STOP or DO NOT ENTER signs around as these can be powerful reminders. We have lots of doors in our house, so I installed alarms on all of them so that I would know when Ryan exited if I were in another room.
Of course these are just some ideas to help keep your child safe during the summer. If you have any other great advice, please share below!