Autism comes with a number of risks that aren’t even related to illness but rather injury due to certain common behaviors. Because of these behaviors, special precautions must be taken to ensure that no unnecessary risks are taken.
Some of the most common actions that lead to injury and even death (the rate of which is double for children with autism compared to the average population) include wandering, bolting, and fleeing. These behaviors are referred to as eloping and are caused by responses to environment, social stimulation, and mental distress. Avoiding these behaviors can be difficult, as it is sometimes necessary to expose children with autism to situations that make them uncomfortable.
In order to best protect, you must be prepared for these behaviors so you can respond and react quickly. You should start by informing your neighbors of the possibility of your child wandering away so they are on alert and will step in if they find your child wandering. Also, secure your house to the best of your ability so that your child cannot get away.
Public places can be more difficult. For example, your child may find his way to the middle of a parking lot. Question the pattern of behavior. Was this aimless wondering, or is your child consistently attracted by the shiny metallic look of cars? If you can find a resource that will replace a goal, such as a shiny metallic toy he or she can hold and play with, this is a great way to stop the wandering. If it is aimless due to boredom, you could initiate a game, such as Follow the Leader or Tag to keep your child stimulated and involved while you are out in public so wandering is less of a risk.
While you may be attentive, children can be fast and subtle in their disappearances. Be sure your child has identification tags so that you are contacted, should anyone else find them. There are also personal locators you can use to keep track of your child.
Children with autism are attracted to water. Avoid drowning, a common cause of accidental death, by giving your child swimming lessons. Because of the simple dangers involved in caring for children with autism, it is essential to heed warnings and learn more about autistic patterns. Take these tips for keeping your child safe, and give yourself a better peace of mind.For additional information about autism and wandering, visit www.awaare.org.
November 21, 2012, cornerstoneac