Category Archives: Safety Tips for ASD

Using Technology and GPS

Over the past few years, there have been many news stories of children with special needs who have wandered off or been separated from their parents. With the evolution of technology and global positioning trackers, protection for children is just a bracelet or necklace away. Tragedies can be averted with the tracking devices that can be worn as wristwatches, anklets or clipped onto belt loops or shoelaces. Here is a quick look at some of the newest devices.

  • Amber Alert GPS – The Amber Alert GPS product is a durable, child-friendly product that allows children to call a parent through the touch of a button via AT&T’s 3G network, as well as allows parents to call and track their kids.
  • Filip – This device is a simple mobile device that children aged between 5 and 11 could wear on their wrist.
  • Angel Sense – AngelSense provides a GPS and voice monitoring solution to keep children with special needs safe and well cared-for. The solution includes a wearable GPS device – designed to address sensory issues and a friendly app based on smart analytics.
  • Safety Link – SafetyLINK wearable devices are available as wristband, key fob, clip-on also self connect to the anchor device. When a child leaves home without permission the device sounds an alarm and send notifications to parents.
  • Eyes On – The EZ-100 from EYEZ-ON gives families of wandering special needs children added peace of mind and the confidence to engage in activities and adventures with the whole family. 

Talk to your child’s pediatrician or occupational therapist about which option would be best for your child.

Halloween Tips

Halloween is a time of year that many youngsters anticipate happily. They plan their costume months in advance, and eagerly await the onslaught of candy as they rush from house to house to collect all the goodies. But for many kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), this can be a difficult and anxiety-ridden time of year.

Children and young adults with ASD have fragile nervous systems, which lend itself to the misinterpretation of environmental stimuli in numerous areas, such as sensory integration, sensory modulation, auditory processing, visual-spatial distortions, motor planning and coordination difficulties. Strange looking costumes, brightly decorated homes and other aspects of the tradition of Halloween, therefore can be unnerving, to say the least. Here are some simple tips to help make Halloween a little less stressful for your ghoul or goblin.

  • Let your child decide if Trick-or-Treating is what they want to do. He/she may want to be an observer or perhaps hand out candy at your home.  Whatever their comfort level is okay.  Remember this is a two-hour holiday that will be forgotten the next morning.
  • If your child does decide to go out to Trick-or-Treat create a story board about what to expect step-by-step. This will help your child prepare for the day’s activities. Include in the visual board where you will go, what homes and what behavior is expected at each location.
  • Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or capes. There is nothing worse than an itchy, uncomfortable costume for an ASD child. In fact, let your child practice wearing their costume at home. This gives you time to make any last minute modifications and time for your child to get used to it.
  • Keep trick-or-treating short and go during the earliest hours you can.
  • Do research gluten-free/casein-free Halloween treats. If your child  has a special diet, you may want to consider giving your neighbors candy that your child can eat in advance.
  • On the night of Halloween, visit several houses in your neighborhood belonging to families who know your child well.
  • If your child is afraid of going out at night, plan indoor or daytime Halloween activities.

Preparing for Halloween

The Halloween traditions of dressing up, trick-or-treating and carving the family pumpkin have long been favorites of children everywhere.   Of course, who doesn’t like candy?  While Halloween can be a lot of fun for most kids, children with autism spectrum disorders may struggle with the sounds. sights and sensory overload that the holiday can bring.  How can we prepare our children for the event so that they may enjoy the evening? Here are a few tips. . .

  1. The Costume – The biggest part of Halloween is finding the perfect costume to wear.  Spend some time talking with your child about what they would like and how the costume would work.  For many children with sensory issues wearing make up or funny feeling clothes can be enough to set off a meltdown.  Choose an outfit carefully.  Think about ways to alter clothes that he/she are already comfortable wearing.  Think simple.  Wear the outfit several times before the big night to be sure there are no itchy or scratchy parts.
  2. Practice – Ask neighbors or friends to allow your child to practice a few nights before.  This may include a script of what to say (Trick or treat) and ringing the doorbell.  If your child is too shy or non verbal think signs.  Create a visual story of what Halloween may be like for your child, with some pictures or drawings. This will help your child prepare for the day’s activities. If your child has dietary restrictions ask neighbors to use snacks that you can delivery to them in advance.
  3. Make a Plan – Make a map of the area that you plan to visit so your child knows in advance how many houses and how long they will be out trick or treating.  Incorporate breaks at certain spots.  If your child needs sound dampening headphones you may want to see if it can become part of the costume.  Partner with a good friend to go to each house.
  4. Discuss Safety – Every parent should talk about safety measures such as crossing roads, using flashlights and only going to homes with an outside light on.  Do not eat any candy until returning home.  No running and use a flashlight or glow necklace to be easily seen by cars.

Halloween doesn’t need to be stressful.  A little advanced preparation will calm any nerves and help make the night enjoyable for all!  Happy Halloween!

Safety Tips for People with ASD – wandering

Having a child with Autism presents a unique set of safety concerns for parents. The advocacy and awareness groups, Unlocking Autism (UA) and the National Autism Association (NAA), have teamed up to provide the following safety information for parents.  The following safety tips are meant as a guideline.  You know your child’s needs best and should consider the best safety options for your unique situation.

One of the largest problems parents worry about with autistic children is that they will get lost, wander too far or run away.   In a recent National Autism Association survey, 92% of parents who responded reported their children were at risk of wandering.

  • Be ProActive!  Meet with police and fire prior to an emergency.  Meet with an outreach coordinator to discuss your situation and give vital statistics on your child in the case that a child wanders. 
  • Secure your home. Take steps to ensure that your child is safe from wandering  by completing some home improvements.  Install deadbolts, put an alarm systems on each door and window, fence your yard, and install eyelet hooks above your child’s reach where possible. 
  • Create an Information Packet.  Prior to facing an emergency, gather important information about your child including recent pictures, height, weight and eye color.  This information sheet can be passed out quickly in the event  of an emergency.  You may also want to take a current picture at the beginning of each outing.  A little preparation can save time in the events of an emergency. 
  • Buy an ID bracelet. In the event that your child can not verbalize emergency information such as his name, phone number and parents information, you may want to consider a medical bracelet.  All pertinent information can be included along with information that your child has autism and is non verbal. 
  • If wandering is a continual problem you may want to consider a personal tracking device.  Some smaller units can be inserted in the child’s jacket or backpack.  Some units work with local law enforcement and rescue personnel. The tracking distance for the devices varies considerably and ranges from 300 feet for parent monitored units to one mile on the ground and 5-7 miles from the air for those monitored by rescue personnel.