Photo by Pixabay
Summer is a great time for families to bond and have fun, but for parents of children on the autism spectrum, it can be a stressful time as well. Many kids on the spectrum have issues with wandering, and warm summer months can make that a little easier to do.
There are several things you can try to stop your little one from straying. Many parents have found success using different colored signage, maps, and technology to ensure their children are safe. Here are some of the best tips for making sure your child doesn’t wander during summer activities.
Use the best tools for the job
If your child responds well to bright colors and shapes, you can use those to your advantage by creating “STOP” signs to hang on doors around the house. Reiterate that there is no outside time without an adult present, especially if you are staying with friends or family during a summer trip somewhere unfamiliar.
There are also more technologically advanced options like GPS trackers, phone and tablet apps, and even specialized door locks.
Children on the autism spectrum often respond very well to animals, so you might consider getting a service dog as a long-term solution. If danger from wandering into a busy street is imminent, a service dog that wears a harness tethered to the child can be extremely beneficial.
The first step in water safety is to teach your child to swim from a young age. You can check with local public pools and organizations like the YMCA for swim classes that cater to children with special needs. Outside of that, it’s important to be prepared during summer months, and not just in your own backyard. If you have a swimming pool, invest in a sturdy cover for it; if your neighbor has a pool, it’s important to speak to them about covering it or keeping it closed off from your child. Keep fence gates secure with hook-and-eye locks well out of their reach.
Be prepared for incidents
No matter how much you prepare and teach, there are bound to be incidents from time to time that require you and your family to take action. It’s a good idea to prepare for those, too, and try not to panic when they come.
Make sure neighbors know what your child looks like and are aware that he or she has special needs. While traveling and enjoying the great outdoors during the summer season, be sure to let lifeguards, hotel staff, and park rangers know about your child’s autism and provide a photo as necessary. Keep an ID card or bracelet on your child at all times, as well. If you’re at an outdoor evening activity away from home, bring along a glow-in-the-dark necklace for your child to wear so you can easily spot them. Afraid your child will lose track of it? Opt for a glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoo instead!
Rest is important
Adequate rest is essential for children of all ages, and it can be extremely helpful for children on the autism spectrum when it’s time to focus and use judgement. A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by for some during travel, however, so it might be helpful to try to stay on your normal routine and make sure certain foods are available which can help with a more restful sleep.
Written by Sean Morris
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.