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Safety and Autism

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Ensuring the safety of a person with autism is important and often difficult. People with autism are faced with a different set challenges, and one must be prepared for an emergency or crisis situation. 

How do you teach your child safety? What are some ways you explain danger? Have you or your child ever been in an emergency situation?

Autism Speaks Family Services has created the Autism Safety Project, an online tool kit for individuals with autism, families, and first responders that provides information and strategies to promote safety in emergency situations.

  1. Barbara
    May 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I use to have to use safety locks on all doors just in case my son would want to take off. If he gets really upset and frustrated because something was too difficult to do and he didn’t have the words to use to explain he would bolt out the door. I also have to hide knifes because if he loses something he gets really upset and wants to hurt himself. I don’t think he would do it…..I think he is just trying to tell me how upset he is about something. I calmly sit down and tell him i love him and that we have to have some kind of consequences for things he has done. that usually works for him.

  2. May 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    This is all very helpful, complete and informational. However, I have been looking for information on how to instruct a young (primary school-age) child with autism about how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Issues are: how not to frighten a child in the discussion, how to help them understand their role in an emergency without freaking them out, how to help them assess whether a 9-1-1 call is needed.

    • May 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      I should add that the scenario I am imagining is the child being home alone with a parent who becomes injured or incapacitated in some way.

  3. Loreen
    May 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    My brother and I both have autism(mine is aspergers) Since I am so much higher functioning than him, I have always been like his teacher when it comes to safety issues or other issues like cleanliness or sanitation. He listens to me because he respects me and loves me. i want my brother to be able to have some independence but when it comes to safety issues, his life is more important. My parents and i would never let him cross the highway by himself because he is a 7 year old in an adult body. you wouldnt let a 7 year old cross the highway by himself. It would be too unsafe. I hurt for him because their is so much that he cant do.With the dangerous world we live in,some people get scared when they come across an autistic adult because they act so strange but look so normal,people think they might be a terrorist or a sex offender or something. Even though I want my brother to have some independence,his safety is more important.

  4. Jennifer Berniger
    May 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    My little one is what they call a runner. He has now broken 3 strollers and can climb out of a tight car seat while still buckled. He has even learned to climb out cement blocked fence. We tried to get safety equipment through our insurance, but were denied twice. We have been approved for federal assistance, but our support coordinators (we are on our second) can’t seem to get the prescription to the right people.
    I don’t understand why safety equipment isn’t medically necessary. My son was almost hit by a car two weeks ago after he broke another stroller and ran from three adults.

  5. dlewis
    May 9, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Just keep teaching and reinforcing the 911 call. With my autistic son, who is now 17,e call last year when we went out for a few hours for dinner. He heard something outside and called. When we got home the police were at our house and we were thankful. By the police were so awesome and understanding.

  6. dlewis
    May 9, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Does anyone know if there is a sticker for your door alerting Fire, Police, and Emergency personnel that there is a Autistic Person inside?

    • Judy
      May 10, 2011 at 9:09 am

      This is a great idea! I think it is extremely important for emergency responders to know that there is some with Autism residing at a home.

    • Gadcock
      May 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      When I lived in Houston, they were available at the fire departments, but the problem was that people would put them on windows and then change the child’s room or move away and the new people wouldn’t remove the stickers.

    • Tricia Finch
      May 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

      yes there is one. we have it posted on our garage door. don’t remember where we got it though.

  7. Andi
    May 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    What about safety locks for traveling? It can be difficulty to vacation when you have a child who “escapes” easily! It is hard to sleep soundly! We sometimes bring tools and have gone as far as reversing a doorknob so that the actual keylock is on the inside!

    • Cindy
      May 11, 2011 at 9:45 am

      We use to put chairs in front of the door when we traveled for my son who got up constantly and wandered. We also at one time had a safety alarm for travelers that hangs on door knob and when door is opened or even bumped an alarm goes off.

  8. Judy
    May 10, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Judy :
    This is a great idea! I think it is extremely important for emergency responders to know that there is someone with Autism residing at a home.

  9. Tawnya
    May 11, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Recently my son has been having an issue with getting out of the car running in the street and wandering in the store. I tried to put the child safety lock on his door, but he became upset when he couldn’t get out. So I stop doing that with his car door. Now he wants to jump out the car and come to my side of the car. It’s truly scares me because he will just come over to my side of the car in the street. This has happen at the school, apartment complex, and shopping center. My son is 8 yrs old but I’m having a ruff time with this issue. He has never done this before. And as for the wandering it in the Target store he wants to run off to the DVD section. Also when I am trying to stop him he becomes upset and loud.

    • Barbara
      May 11, 2011 at 9:39 am

      I truley understand the jumping out of the car and running. I would definetly keep the saftey lock on in the car. it is going to take a lot of patience and work to teach him but it will be worth it in the long run. My son is now 10. You need to some how set some clear rules that the car isn’t moving until he is in the car with a seat belt on. (mine hates the seat belt) If this doesn’t calm him down i call 911. My son has been in the hospital 2x’s before and isn’t happy when i call 911. He is afraid of going back to the hospital. (he stayed there for 2 weeks each time and they work on medication changes) I just let the police/fire department know that he is special needs and is refusing to stay in his seat. It usually scares him and he gets himself in control. Everytime I mentioned dialing 911 he would do whatever i said. I no longer have to do this. Good luck!!

    • Barbara
      May 11, 2011 at 9:42 am

      I have also had the problem with the running wild on me in the stores. He would just take of and run. It made me crazy but i made my trip to the store quick and got out as quick as i could. the therapist that worked with him carried pennies and every couple of seconds he didn’t take off she would give him a penny. At the end of the shopping trip if he had like 10 pennies he could get a piece of candy. that works for him.

  10. Tawnya
    May 11, 2011 at 2:30 am

    I have a grandson who is 2 1/2 years and my 8 yr old who has Autism. We seem to have a problem with redirecting my son when he becomes upset. Also how can I make him understand he is the bigger kid and they can’t be ruff with each others. I know boys are boys but I stress alot over my boys. Plus we all live together with my oldest child. Sometimes I wonder if I should just separate them all together by moving or just keep trying to wade through all of the fighting over toys, objects, or just my attention. How does one balance there life so that no one is left behind.

    • Barbara
      May 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

      I usually redirect by coming up with things he likes or just getting his mind off of it works too. I would absolutely keep trying. I did a lot of talking, practicing and showing my son the behaviors i was looking for. I taught him to see if someone was ok if they were upset or crying. To not hit, punch or kick. We are still working on play fighting with some of his sisters friends and letting him know he CAN NOT hit a girl. Its just the law. lol. My son has an awesome relationship with his sister. He also use to have a very tough time with our cat. He was pretty harsh on her and i thought of getting rid of it but now he has learned to call the cat over and pet her. The cat now comes to him. It like a miracle that I taught him all this. Im so proud of him. It is a lot of work and patience but it is so worth it.

  11. Heather Hildeman
    May 11, 2011 at 9:46 am

    What about “stranger danger?” My 7 y/o daughter has PDD-NOS with only one symptom that does not classify here as having straight Asperger’s. I think she understands the stranger danger concept in theory but I have extreme doubts that she would be able to respond appropriately if approached by an ill-intentioned stranger. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  12. May 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

    It is extremely important for your children on the spectrum to wear a customized medical ID bracelet or necklace. The ID should have the following information on it: Name, Condition, Any Meds, Emergency Contact Name and Phone Number. This is incredibly helpful information to all emergency personnel.

  13. Jscarclar
    May 11, 2011 at 11:51 am

    If you child wanders, here is a great family emergency plan I found from AWAARE.

    Also, you way want to check out SafetyNet – a bracelet with a radio frequency transmitter. http://www.lojack.com/safetynet/Pages/index.aspx

  14. Angie
    May 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Justin Noland :It is extremely important for your children on the spectrum to wear a customized medical ID bracelet or necklace. The ID should have the following information on it: Name, Condition, Any Meds, Emergency Contact Name and Phone Number. This is incredibly helpful information to all emergency personnel.

    Absolutely!!! I just got one of these for my 2-year-old son. It’s a bracelelet that has the autism puzzle pieces on it and a blue tag that slides on and off with all his information. It is adjustable but still kind of big, but it does stay and on and doesn’t mess with it too much.

    • Rose
      May 14, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      I have a 7 yr. old grandson who also likes to take off unexpectedly. Bracelets, etc. are a great idea, but what if you have someone like my grandson who also has sensory issues. He will not wear a chain, bracelet, or anything like that. I even tried to pin an id to his shirt, and he ripped it off. Anyone have any suggestions?

  15. Nadine
    May 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Great idea about the bracelet. I have been asking about just such an item and couldn’t find where to purchase one. Can someone please direct me. I have a grandson who is a runner and each year is picking up a little more speed.

  16. September 21, 2011 at 4:47 am

    When it comes to a child with autism, safety is the first priority. In the therapy for autism, safety should be considered first because autistic lacks the normal maturity level on their age. For an autistic child, a room that is equipped with safety precautions is a must.

  17. Alex
    December 10, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Childhood autism affects millions of children all over the world, and there are many precautions that you can take to ensure that your child leads the most normal and well-adapted life possible. A child with autism usually suffers from hindered social development and communication skills, and they may express symptoms including repetitive behavior and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Signs of autism usually assert themselves within the first three or four years of a child’s life.
    For more information on safety of child with autism visit http://www.myidentitydoctor.com

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