Randolph, Mass. – Just when parents think they have it all covered for keeping their children out of harm’s way, the summer season arrives. In recognition of National Safety Month, we offer the following safety tips for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs. These basic safety skills may someday become critical life-saving skills.
Click here to download “How Can I Help My Child with Autism Be Safe at Home and in the Community?”– May Institute’s most recent addition to its “Autism – A Closer Look” series.
Tips for being safe around the water:
Many children with autism and other developmental disabilities are powerfully drawn to the water, but do not understand the dangers.
Find the right (typical or adaptive) life jacket that best meets your child’s needs to wear anytime the child is near water – pool, lake, river, fountain, pond, hot tub, or any open water.
Always be within arm’s reach of the child when he or she is in or around any open water.
Be sure to drain bathtubs and other small containers of water when you are finished using them. Put safety locks on toilet seats; motion detector alarms/safety locks on all hot tubs, landscape ponds, or other water sources around your home.
Take adaptive swim classes with your child at an early age. Many YMCAs and Parks and Recreation Departments offer these classes. If your child has difficulty learning conventional swimming strokes, teach him or her drown-proofing, a water survival technique that will help a child stay afloat until help arrives.
Ways to prevent wandering (courtesy of LoJack SafetyNet):
Children with ASD and other special needs are more likely to act impulsively – to run away or wander – than their typically developing peers.
Distinguishing between stranger and friend:
In emergency situations – a child has wandered from home and is lost or in physical peril, for example – it is difficult for children with special needs to distinguish a stranger from a friend. This puts them in greater danger of becoming lost or hurt. It is critical for both first responders in the community and children with special needs to feel secure around each other.
For more information to share with your local community law enforcement and safety departments, download a copy of our “Autism for First Responders” fact sheet.
About May Institute
May Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and other behavioral health needs. For more information, visit www.mayinstitute.org.