WANDERING CAN HAPPEN AT ANYTIME. A TURN OF THE BACK AND IN A SPLIT SECOND YOUR CHILD IS GONE! THIS FEAR IS THE WORST FEELING ANY PARENT CAN EXPERIENCE.
There are various reasons why a child with ASD & Autism may wander off. Some children gravitate toward water. This could be lakes, ponds, streams and pools. This is often because they are aware that the attention is no longer on them or they are able to slip out of the house without an alarm signaling. When a child with autism is in water they feel a connection with their body. Sensory disorders are mostly to blame. They are able to experience how their body works as a whole and in separate parts. This is something that being out of the water does not give them. It could also be that just being around water makes them feel good. They may enjoy looking, watching or starring into the water. One slip and they are in trouble! The problem comes when the child does not know how to swim. Safety precautions will need to be put into place to prevent a serious accident from occurring.
When a child likes the feeling of the breeze especially when it touches their face or body they may just keep walking in order to feel the awakening of their senses. When you notice that your child is doing this do not be surprised when your call to them is ignored. They will continue to follow the wind and the feeling. At that point the only thing you can do is to chase after them.
Family gatherings are another time when you can become distracted and have the feeling that others are helping you watch after your child. This is true for all year not just summer or the winter holidays.
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO SWIM
Check your community for swimming lessons with special needs. YMCA is a good place to start. Remember that if you have a pool you will still need a fence around the pool. Make sure that the gates are self- closing and it is taller than your child. Never leave any toys in the pool as this can draw your child to the pool to remove the toy. Let your neighbors know about safety precautions to help keep your child and other neighborhood children safe.
FIRST AID & CPR CLASSES
Parents remember that best safety precaution that you can do is to take a first aid and CPR class to become certified in lifesaving procedures. If something does happen you might be the first person to reach your child and being prepared may save a life.
ALERT YOUR NEIGHBORS
Your neighbors should be aware that your child may wander off. Introduce your child to your neighbors and give them a handout with your name, address and phone number along with a photo of your child. Ask them to call you immediately if they see your child outside alone. Let them know what fears and sensory issues your child has to prevent sending them into a meltdown. Remind them that your child may not respond to his name when called or may not go with them, but to keep a close eye on them until you can be reached. It is best if your child knows and recognizes his neighbors.
ALERT FIRST RESPONDERS
Informational handouts should be carried with you at all times. You will need pertinent information that would be helpful in locating your child if lost.
AUTISM SERVICE DOGS
A service dog can be trained to stop a child in his tracks. Once the child is tethered to the service dog the child can not go anywhere. The child tries to take off, a command is placed on the dog to down, and the child is stopped! This is one training that has been benifical to our family. Another is tracking. The dog will be able to locate a child if the runs off even if the child is in the house and hides.
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
TRACKING SYSTEMS & MEDICAL DEVICES
LOC8TOR (LOC8TOR) best in distance
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children | 1-800-THE–LOST
SERVICE DOGS GRANT
Bruster's Buddies 4 Autism
AUTISM SERVICE DOG TRAINING