Keeping Your Child with Autism Safe: 10 Tips for Parents

Safety measure a parent needs to take after an autism diagnosis

After your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a plague of thoughts may invade your mind. What do I do next? How do I prepare? Why has this happened? How do I cope? Though each question is valid, sometimes the uncertainty of it all can make it easy to overlook important protective measures that need to be taken. Safety is often missed from the start.

Keeping Your Child with Autism Safe: 10 Tips for Parents

Typically, children are diagnosed with autism between the ages of two and four, when parents have most likely already begun childproofing their homes with items such as safety gates, child-proof locks on cabinets, and electrical outlet covers.  But if your child is autistic, home safety doesn’t stop there.

For many kids on the spectrum, danger and safety awareness are often abstract and not understood. For example, the thought of walking down a street alone with just a diaper and bottle doesn’t cause concern for a child on the spectrum, and yet it is very alarming and frightening for his/her parents. Children with autism may also not understand or react when parents use words such as “no” or “don’t touch that,” making it more challenging for parents to protect them from unsafe situations.

All parents want to keep their kid safe, but when you have a child with autism, safety becomes a daily concern. From protecting a child against bullying to ensuring they receive adequate care and education, parents are often preoccupied with child safety. One of the biggest concerns parents have is the risk of wandering. As many as half of all children with autism have a tendency to wander. The risk of elopement is highest among younger children, but almost a third of children with autism still wander at age 10. These tips can help you keep your child safe at home, school, and outdoors.

Keeping Your Child with Autism Safe at Home

While your child is often safest at home, there are still risks, especially when it comes to the possibility of elopement. Here are several ways you can help your child think before they act:

  • Place signs on all doors at your child’s eye-level. The sign should be a visual image you have discussed with your child to help him/her remember not to go outside without someone with them.
  • Get alarms for your doors to alert you if they are opened.
  • Speak to your neighbors and when possible, introduce them to your child so you have other eyes and ears looking out for them.
  • Using a GPS device like AngelSense can also help prevent risk and avert tragedy. AngelSense GPS was designed to help prevent the elopement of individuals with autism. It includes tools for parents, school staff, and even search teams.

Keeping Your Child With Autism Safe at School

Parents have more power than they often realize when it comes to protecting their autistic child at school. Using your IEP, you can add a variety of accommodations to protect your child, such as:

  • Requiring an aid to accompany your child at all times, including on the school bus to ensure your kid gets on and off the bus at the right place
  • Requiring the school bus to release your child directly to an adult rather than just dropping him/her off at a bus stop
  • Providing your child with safe spaces within the school he/she can go to regroup when stressed so he/she doesn’t wander because of anxiety
  • Providing school staff with access to your child’s schedule. This way, both you and school staff will be alerted immediately if your child doesn’t arrive or leaves school unexpectedly and will be directed to his/her location in no time.

Keeping Your Child with Autism Safe Outdoors

Keeping your child safe outdoors can be stressful, especially if he/she is in an unfamiliar environment with unpredictable triggers. Only you know the level of supervision your child needs to remain safe—some children will respond to parents and teachers well enough to simply have aline of sight supervision; others need to be within arm’s reach. No matter where your child is, anyone responsible for him/her should be aware of the danger of water. For children with autism who have a tendency to wander and are attracted to bodies of water, drowning is a serious concern for parents.

  • Know your child’s wandering triggers. Children with autism can be impulsive or may bolt from a location if something stresses them.
  • Focus on water safety. Lifejackets should always be worn when around bodies of water, but basic swim safety and swimming lessons may also be appropriate.
  • Knowing where bodies of water are, and fencing and securing your own pools, hot tubs, and water features can make a big difference.
  • In school, at home, and out in the community, the best way to keep your child safe is with a GPS tracking device like AngelSense.

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AngelSense Is Proven to Save Lives

Know precisely where your child is all the time.

AngelSense uses technologically advanced GPS and tracking information to help you locate your child if they wander. By learning your child’s schedule, AngelSense can detect when your child is at an unidentified location and deliver text messages to your phone to warn you if your child has wandered to an unidentified place. You get the peace of mind of knowing where your child is and that you’ll be alerted immediately if something goes wrong.

Alert first responders immediately if your child wanders.

If your child does wander off, the AngelSense app includes a special First Responder Feature for finding a lost child.

Make sure your child’s bus ride is safe.

See the route he/she is traveling to or from school, at what speed, what stops were made, and how long each stop was. The minute your child gets on the bus, your AngelSense application shows you they’re in transit. You also know exactly when and where your child gets off the bus and when they safely enter the school premises or arrive at home. All of this can easily be viewed on a timeline in your application that is updated every 30 seconds. The special listen-in feature lets you make sure your child is not being bullied.

Non-stop tracking.

AngelSense never enters standby mode and is always tracking, even when the app is closed. It allows parents to see their child’s detailed routes, including planned and unplanned stops along with a timeline view of where the child has been so they can react more quickly if something goes awry.

Receive immediate notification if your child is in an unknown place.

Notifications, as well as real-time locations on a map, are delivered to your phone to locate the child as rapidly as possible. They can quickly contact the school or daycare to locate their child or alert authorities if the child is lost. Our smart, innovative device offers unlimited, automated geofencing. It is not necessary to preset locations; the app learns the child’s locations.

Learn more about Angelsense here

Amy KD Tobik

Amy KD Tobik, Editor-in-Chief of Autism Parenting Magazine, has more than 30 years of experience as a published writer and editor. A graduate of Sweet Briar College in Virginia, Amy’s background includes magazine, newspaper, and book publishing. As a special needs advocate and editor, she coordinates with more than 300 doctors, autism specialists, and researchers to ensure people diagnosed with autism receive the services and supports they need for life. She has two adult children and lives in the Carolinas with her husband.