Ways to prevent your autistic child from wandering away
For many parents of autistic children, one of the most challenging aspect is their child’s tendency to wander off. This is very common among children with autism spectrum disorders and more than half the children with this condition tend to wander off from safe places. Studies suggest that this behavior tends to peak at age 4, and a considerable amount of kids with autism between the ages of 7 to 10 also wander away.
Children can wander from their safe surroundings including home or school, and even under an adult supervision. It is suggested that special needs children can wander for a variety of reasons. For some children, walking away helps them cope with sensory overwhelm or anxiety. Others may do it because they’re curious to explore or simply enjoy running.
Many parents with special needs do not receive any guidance on how to manage their child’s wandering. These tips and strategies can help prevent this tendency.
- Add signage on doors
You can try by placing a combination of verbal and visual signs on each door at your child’s eye level. This may ensure that your child thinks before they act. Some parents find this technique quite effective and think that it dissuades their child from wandering.
- Add chimes to doors
Installing chimes on interior doors is very easy. These also act as an alarm that will alert you when a door is opened. It will help you stay vigilant and alert when your child tries to wander off outside.
- Ask Neighbors for Help
Your neighbors can play a big role in keeping your child safe. Confide in them and they are mostly going to be empathetic and willing to help. You can help them understand your child’s tendencies and they can keep a lookout for your child whenever he/she tries to wander away.
- Get a safety device or ID tag
While safety devices or ID tags/bracelets can be a great way to keep your child safe, not all special needs children will be comfortable to wear one. If your child doesn’t mind wearing these, you can include your contact number, your child’s name and information about his condition. If your child is nonverbal, a bracelet can be a good way to communicate this to strangers.
- Consider Swimming lessons
Teaching an autistic child to swim will give them more confidence in water, and also help them improve their sense of balance. It will also give your child the tools to know what to do in case they panic while swimming. You can find out about swimming lessons for your special needs child around your area.
- Set Outdoor Barriers
This is one of the best ways to use your child’s interest to prevent them from wandering too far. Find something that your child is fascinated by and place the object in strategic places around your home. This could be anything from their favorite toys or clothing. The idea is that if your child tries to leave the house unaccompanied, they’ll see their favorite object and be distracted with it temporarily.
These are some of the ways in which you can keep your special needs child safe in your surroundings. Talk to your child’s therapist to discuss more about ways to keep them occupied when you’re at home or outside.