Autism is a developmental disability that makes it difficult for the brain to regulate emotions, make sense of sensory information like sound and light, or communicate effectively with others. Wandering in autistic children can be extremely dangerous because they are more likely to wander without warning or notice into unsafe areas.
Here are seven steps you can take today to prevent wandering in your child:
1) Keep an eye on them – Make sure their surroundings stay safe and familiar2) Teach them how to use “safe zones”3) Ease anxiety by using calm-and-quiet techniques4) Provide a routine5) Offer distraction6) Get help7).
The “how to stop an autistic child from wandering” is a blog post that gives 7 steps to prevent wandering in autistic children. The steps are as follows: 1) Have a routine 2) Know your child 3) Keep the door locked 4) Put up a fence 5) Make sure they have their own room 6) Set boundaries and rules 7) Teach them how to ask for help.
Your autistic kid may appear in front of you at any time. The next thing you know, you can’t locate your kid. It’s an experience that many parents have had.
Wandering on the autism spectrum is both frequent and dangerous. To avoid tragedy hitting your family, take a few practical actions to protect your kid and invest in counseling approaches.
Autism Wandering: What Causes It?
According to researchers, over half of all children with autism wander, and nearly a third of them are absent for long enough to worry their families. Autism wandering is not the same as a child gently strolling away from the flowers to smell them. Autism wandering is often quick, deliberate, and hazardous.
Children with autism often walk toward water, and drowning is the cause of 71 percent of wandering-related fatalities. According to the National Autism Association, traffic incidents account for almost 20% of all injuries. An event may also elicit the following reactions:
Hypothermia is a condition in which a person becomes cold.
Face-to-face encounters with potentially harmful people
Autism wandering, according to experts, is usually a means of communication. Your youngster is trying to get closer to something exciting, or he or she is trying to get away from something tough or bothersome. It’s not a good idea to penalize your youngster for these occurrences. Instead, concentrate on preventative measures to lessen the chances of a repeat performance.
Autism Wandering at Home: How to Prevent It
According to studies, 74 percent of wandering episodes occur at home. This kind of conduct may occur at school or when out with their families, but it is most typically the result of a problem in the home. This provides you the chance to take control and make significant adjustments to keep your kid safe.
Begin with the following to-do list:
Keep an eye out for triggers. The Autism Society advises parents to keep an eye on and listen to their children. Investigate wandering episodes for wandering suggestions.
Was it too hot in there? Was the environment bright or noisy? You can construct a solid solution set if you can recognize triggers.
Make use of technology. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly a third of autistic persons who wander do not provide caregivers with their names, residences, or phone numbers. Even when words fail, technology, such as GPS-enabled medical alert wristbands, can help you locate your kid.
Close all of the exits. Hire a professional to go through your house and look for flaws. When the impulse to roam strikes, new window and door locks, a security system, and robust fencing may be enough to keep your youngster on your property.
Create a safety strategy. Consult your neighbors about your child’s propensity for wandering. Also, reach out to community leaders, such as members of your neighborhood watch group. If your kid runs away, these individuals may be able to assist you in reuniting with them.
Allow for risk-free exploration. Is your youngster often straying away to gaze at the lake or touch the horses? Find a safe approach to fulfill your need. Perhaps a little water fountain might be appealing to your youngster, or you could schedule a daily supervised horse visit. It’s possible that addressing recognized objectives will keep your youngster at home.
Rethink your strategy. Your child’s talents change as he or she grows older. A child could be stopped by a lock, but a teenager might be able to get through it fast. To keep your kid secure, keep an eye on him or her and make adjustments as required.
Register for resources. The Big Red Safety Box from the National Autism Association is filled with wandering prevention items including first responder profile sheets, emotion identification cards, and window alarms. Register for the box on the internet.
Is Therapy Effective in Treating Wandering?
At home, parents may take a variety of preventative measures. Professionals, on the other hand, can sometimes do even more to prevent wandering episodes from beginning or intensifying.
Make use of a professional to:
Develop relaxing techniques. Request that your kid be taught wandering options by a therapist. Relaxation methods, such as deep breathing or visualization, may help some children with autism cope with their emotions, allowing them to rely on them instead of roaming.
Teach them how to be safe. Request that your child’s therapist concentrate on particular methods, such as obeying safety orders or saying names and phone numbers. If your kid is already receiving applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment, these objectives might be included into sessions to help them remain safe.
Educate your youngster on how to swim. Drowning is a major danger for wandering children with autism. Find a swimming teacher who has worked with children with autism, and make sure your kid can swim in both a swimsuit and full gear. Experts caution that this strategy will not avoid drowning events. Swimming skills, on the other hand, may give you time while you establish a search party if your kid falls into the water during an episode.
Examine the episodes. If your kid wanders in a consistent pattern, get support from your therapist. Make an appointment for the time and place when you’re prone to straying. An ABA therapist may be able to notice indications that you are missing, and you may work together to design a strategy to help you resist the impulse to walk away.
What to Do If Your Child Is Abandoned
Don’t be alarmed if your youngster leaves the house. Quick thinking might assist you in reuniting in good health and safety.
These are the stages in your action plan:
Begin your search. Request that a family member inspect your house and yard. Visit the places where your kid is most likely to go during an episode.
Make an effort to connect with people in your neighborhood. Notify your neighbors and local officials that your kid has gone missing. If you’ve previously told them about your child’s desires, this conversation might be brief, and they’ll be ready to assist.
Make a phone call to the authorities. Inform your local police station that your kid has gone missing. The forms in the Big Red Safety Box could come in handy during this chat.
Stay at home. If your kid returns, someone should be accessible at home. That individual may also serve as a resource for others searching for your kid.
Take a minute to examine your feelings once your kid is returned to you. Your youngster did not stray to frighten or upset you. This is a normal aspect of the disorder’s development. If you’re able, respond with kindness. Then make the necessary adjustments to your preventative strategies.
Each episode provides you with useful information that you may utilize to keep the wandering impulse at bay. Don’t let this chance pass you by. Make use of the lessons to keep your kid safer in the future.
Elopement in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Occurrence and Family Impact (November 12, 2012) Pediatrics.
Wandering. The National Autism Association (NAA) is a non-profit organization
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual Disability are more likely to wander (July 2016). Pediatrics is a journal published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It’s all good. The Autism Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping
Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to keep kids with autism from wandering (December 2019). The American Academy of Pediatrics is a group of doctors that specialize in children’s health
Resources for Wandering Prevention. Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about
Autism and Elopement (April 2018). Autism Research Organization.
12 Ways to Prevent, and Respond to, ASD Wandering. The National Autism Association (NAA) is a non-profit organization
The Big Red Safety Box of the NAA. The National Autism Association (NAA) is a non-profit organization
Occupational Therapy Fact Sheet on Autism-Related Wandering. The National Autism Association (NAA) is a non-profit organization
Information about Wandering (Elopement) for People with Disabilities (September 2019). The CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Preventing wandering in people with autism. Autism Services in Nassau and Suffolk
Wandering by Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Key Clinical Factors and the Role of Schools and Pediatricians. (September 2018). Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.
Study Confirms: Autism Wandering Common & Scary. (August 2018). Autism Speaks.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are more likely than children in other study groups to wander. (In January of 2020) The CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The “safety precautions for autism” is a 7-step guide to prevent wandering in autistic children. It includes tips on how to keep your child safe and what you can do if they wander away from home.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.