While special care needs to be taken by all parents to ensure their children are safe, even more attention than usual can be required in autism families. Taking care of a child with autism means dealing with the constant worry about keeping him/her safe, which can be exhausting and stressful—but it isn’t the world’s end. You can ease the burden on yourself by establishing and developing some standard road safety measures that your child can get accustomed to even when alone.
Taking careful steps and following a checklist can ensure you don’t forget important details and your mind is at rest whenever your child is out and about.
The importance of a road safety checklist
Autistic children’s brains work uniquely. Unlike most neurotypical children, some children living with autism can find it harder imitating the necessary road safety skills needed to keep them safe.
Many children with autism are prone to wandering when getting distracted. They may have difficulties focusing on their safety.
They are also often easily alarmed. Coupled with difficulties they might have communicating with their external environment, children with autism can be prone to road accidents if left unsupervised.
Having a Road Safety Checklist for your child and adhering strictly to it is one way you can hope to effectively ensure your child is safe on the roads.
Safety ideas for children with autism
Before your children are ready to go out, be sure to put road safety measures in place. Here are some ideas and techniques you can put into practice:
Consider virtual reality
Although children living with autism may find it difficult to learn road safety measures, it’s not impossible. With the right technique and patience, they can learn to understand basic traffic rules and obey them. Virtual reality has proven helpful in this regard. Virtual reality systems have been able to effectively teach children how to sit in buses, understand traffic signs, and lots more.
Ensuring that your child with autism is safe on the road is better done with the community’s help. Make sure everyone understands the challenges your child is facing. This way, everyone puts extra effort into ensuring your child’s safety. This includes your child’s school teachers, neighbors, police officers, train station staff, and anyone your child regularly interacts with.
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Seek professional help
Some psychologists are trained to help children develop healthy safety habits and consciousness. For example, a behavioral psychologist can teach your child to adapt to certain road safety measures to ensure he/she doesn’t wander off, lose concentration, or endanger himself/herself on the road.
It’s a smart idea for children with autism to wear bright colored clothes when this can be afforded. This way, the child can easily be seen by road users. This may also help individuals in your community exercise extra road precautions whenever they come across your child.
Have an emergency plan
Caring for a child with autism means you should always be prepared for emergencies. Ensure you have a plan in place should an accident or incident occur, and ensure everyone in your family is aware of such a plan.
Be alert at all times
Being alert could mean you’re constantly keeping an eye on your child when on the road. It could also mean that you’re employing other safety measures like using a harness to prevent your child from getting in front of moving cars.
This article was featured in Issue 112 – Understanding Diagnosis & Disorders