What Can We Do To Keep Our Kids Safe?

This year has given a new awareness to autism, and not in a good way.

So many lives have been lost, in part because of autism’s impact.

The stabbing of Alex Spourdalakis (if you remember was also the focus of a situation involving hospital restraints), allegedly by his mother and caregiver.

The publicized drowning deaths of Mikaela, Drew, and Owen.

And within the last week:

Michael Kingsbury was found dead in a car in Northeast DC and a family member was arrested in the death of Terry Smith.

And there are more. So many more. So many that we do not even know about.

It should not be this way.

Some are tragic accidents, some are not – but the message is clear: autism presents an array of challenges. Not just to autistic individuals, but to parents, caregivers and the general public.

According to a recent AAP study, 49% of survey respondents have said that their ASD child has attempted to elope at least once (after 4 years old) and that 26% were missing long enough to cause concern. Back in May, the NAA released a statement regarding recent drowning deaths.

At the beach house last summer. That gate travels with us pretty much all the time, but it's not foolproof.

At the beach house last summer. That gate travels with us pretty much all the time, but it’s not foolproof.

Of course, accidents do happen. And I like to believe that you are like me, a bit “helicoptery” (to make a new word) when it comes to kids and safety.

But we are not perfect. One time, I lost track of B for 15 seconds in a grocery store. I nearly had a panic attack. If that was 15 seconds, what about 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 days?

We are not around our children 24/7/365. There’s school, or field trips. Encouraging independence and a thriving life comes with a big risk of wandering.

What else can we do?

We need to know our children. We need to know what they are attracted to, or what can trigger elopement. The NAA has a great resource: “12 Ways To Prevent, And Respond To, ASD Wandering.”

We need to educate. We need to make it known that elopement is serious for autistic individuals. A news story shown last month in DC highlights such a need. Make your neighbors aware of wandering. I am going to continue work with B on what to do in a public place if he gets lost.

Tracking devices are useful, if your area is serviced by a vendor (Project Lifesaver and LoJack are common). In conjunction with your local police department, they can be vital in a wandering/elopement situation.

If you have a home alarm system, you can have the alarm make a noise every time someone opens a door. In addition to locks and chains, we utilize this at home. Visitors tend to be startled at the first instance of a strange voice saying, “Sensor 3 Back Door Open *beep*” but they all say what a great idea that is.

There are other options out there – ID cars, tattoos, you name it. Utilize the internet and you will find a host of products, information and other items just like I have linked in my post. The point is – there are so many different strategies that can work in conjunction to help stem these heartbreaking stories.

An event will take place next week in Montgomery County, MD that a fellow autism parent has planned with Autism Speaks. This event, while showing off some cool stuff (K-9 unit! Moonbounce!) the overall goal is to get the word out about safety for those with autism and their caregivers.

If you are in the DC metro area, I encourage you to try to come out if you can.

Autism Night Out


About OneLoCoMommy

I live in Northern Virginia and and I look like the stereotypical suburban mom, for better or for worse. My son plays baseball and takes karate (albeit adaptive). My daughter is a gymnastics diva but rolls with the boys in T-ball. I've been a Room Mom and Playdate Coordinator. I work full-time, try to work out, and love my Book Club. However, I also blog on my experiences on our ASD, SPD and ADHD journey while trying to be a better parent advocate. All in a life's work.
This entry was posted in Autism, Autism Awareness, Family, Life, Ramblings, Special Needs, What I'm Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What Can We Do To Keep Our Kids Safe?

  1. Lisa says:

    It is very scary to be the parent of an autistic child…the event in your area is awesome! Wish we had one like that!


  2. Reminds me of when a girlfriend and I took her 2 daughters and my son to a local aquarium. The kids were of an age, that we watched her younger daughter like a hawk. But we should have been watching her older one. She got separated from us, went out of the aquarium and was caught crossing a very busy city street. A woman took her hand and led her back into the aquarium, assuming this was where she had strayed from. By that time, the aquarium was on lock down and we were panicking. To my knowledge, my GF has never had her daughter tested to see if she’s on the spectrum, but she has some definite “delays” and gaps. She doesn’t wander off these days (she’s 10), but we had to watch her a few years longer than most. Love all the technology out there to help keep track of those who might wander off.


  3. Krystal says:

    Keeping our kids safe is not easy – I love that you wrote about it. I also like that you have a safety fair in your area. I’m hoping that maybe one can get started here. There are so many ideas that I have for my small town just don’t know how to get it started!


  4. Pingback: RIP Paulie. | One LoCo Mommy

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