By Sheila Edwards, Parent Liaison
People with autism may wander away from safe areas, leading to dangerous situations. Fortunately there are many resources available to families to help them create a safety plan for their child.
First, access resources to help you. The National Autism Association provides a free, printable booklet of materials, including stop sign prompts that can be placed on doors and windows. The NAA also offers free safety boxes that can be mailed to families, and their Caregiver Checklist Tool can help families choose appropriate resources.
Next, consider supports such as location tracking devices, alarm systems and fencing. Some home alarm companies may offer discounts for families of a child who wanders. The Family Supports Medicaid Waiver in Indiana now allows environmental modifications, including alarms and fences, with a lifetime maximum cap. Ask your child’s case manager for more information.
Teaching water safety is extremely important. Many children with autism are attracted to water and may go into deep water without realizing the danger. Tell neighbors and close family members that your child may wander, and put a buddy system in place for holidays and special events.
Finally, create a plan that’s right for your child and your family. Reach out to your child’s doctor, BCBA, and Waiver Case Manager to help you brainstorm. AWAARE’s blank printable plan includes a place for important contact information and emergency steps, to help get you started. Safety plans can and should be updated regularly, as each individual and their needs, as well as available resources, change over time.
Click here for a printable handout with additional resources. This handout can be used to start a conversation with your child’s care team to create a safety plan that’s right for their unique needs.
September 17, 2020, Sheila Edwards