Although safety risks exist for those wtih autism, there are proactive steps that can be taken to protect individuals and reduce risks of significant injury or death. Some of these include teaching a child to swim, utilizing tracking devices, and having some form of identification on the individual. Depending on the situation and person with autism, different approaches or combination of approaches may be more effective.
Options for Proactively Safeguarding Individuals with Autism
Teach Individual to Swim–this is a skill every chidl and individual with autism should acquire if at all possible. Since half the autism deaths are related to drowning, this is a very important skill to learn. This would also be a consideration when vacationing, or renting or purchasing a home close to a pool or pond.
Teach Functional Safety Skills (taken from the Operation Autism Website): some of these items will be more feasible than others, depending on level of functioning of the individual, but teach as much as possible!
· Responding to name–look at you when name is called
· Acknowledging “come here”–and if verbal saying “here I am”; this should be practiced often and across many environments.
· Answering questions about self–teach address, phone number, and to answer in various, practiced scenarios; also, teach to respond to questions using augmentive communication systems (ACS) (if they are familiar with ACS).
· Request permission to leave the home/yard and asking to go to desired locations
· Teach hand holding when walking in public and how to wait to cross streets until no cars are seen or granted permission; also walking with an adult
· Teach to cooperate with wearing medical alert jewelry or tags; to present identification card if asked “are you lost?” or “what is your name?”, etc.
· Teach to decline inappropriate requests and identification of strangers versus familiar people
Options for Locating and Tracking Individuals with Autism
Location and Tracking Devices: tracking devices and items to identify the individual as having a disability can be obtained to aid law enforcement and the public in interacting with an individual with autism and locating families.
Autism Awareness Cards: 2-sided Wallet card for effectively interacting with individuals with autism – give to law enforcement, neighbors, family
My Prescious Kid:
This site maintains many safety devices and products for those with autism
* Loc8tor Tracking Device: handheld GPS device for tracking children
* Shoe ID Tags
* Wireless Key Pad Door Alarms and Window Alarms
* Portable Wireless Alarm for Travel
* Backpack Harnesses (toddlers)
* Wrist personal safety alarm (toddlers)
* Dog Tags
* Many other in-home and travel safety products
* Temporary Autism Tattoos (several styles )
This site offers a low-cost emblem that is personally engraved with information and a unique
member ID number that identifies the individual; linked to an 800-number that law enforcement
and first responders can call 24 hours per day; a shoe tag or belt tag is also available. Medic Alert
also offer GPS services and other jewelry.
This site has available many, many styles of tags that can be personalized and worn laced on shoes
These are low or no-cost options that other parents and families have successfully used!
* Go to local printer and have an ink-stamp made….stamp your child’s upper back or other areas they cannot see or reach (restamp after bathing!).
The are a number of vendors in addition to the above that provide identification tagging, GPS devices, tracking devices, and other products and activities to assist in protecting individuals with autism. These are just a few that were recommended by multiple sites; on the Resource page there are a number of organizations listed–they each have affiliations with organizations offering tracking, identification, and/or other proactive means to increase safety in those with autism.