At the Elizabeth Lee Black School, the air is buzzing with excitement. That’s because summer break is here in only 6 more school days! Summer is a busy and happy time for all of us, but with all of the outdoor activity many parents have an added worry about wandering and the safety of their child. It’s no wonder, then, that June is National Safety Month.
I particularly like to bring awareness to this time of year, because there are so many great tips and resources available to families to help with safety and prevention. Below I’ve shared some of my most “tried and true” tips, but I welcome any new ones in the comments below!
Water Safety & Swim Lessons
Living in Erie, water safety is a critical issue. Yet, it is an important issue wherever you reside. 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 as to how your child is to handle being around water is essential. It is even more important to practice those rules in real life situations. I really encourage parents to consider teaching your child to swim as well. Who knows, he or she may even find they love the activity! 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. Once your child is over 16, they are also eligible to get an ID card from the DMV. If your child will not wear a bracelet or necklace, carrying an ID card or even a temporary tattoo with your contact information are other options if you know you’ll be out on the town for the day. Alternatively, tracking devices are available to 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.
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.
For families who are just starting to form a safety and prevention plan, I highly recommend downloading the Big Red Safety Toolkit, provided by National Autism Association. It has GREAT resources and worksheets to help put a plan in place.
Have a safe and happy summer to all!!