05 Dec How to Prevent Wandering
It doesn’t matter how old your child is or how safe they think they are, they can wander. Kids with autism get distracted by even little things that most people don’t notice or simply decide that they need to be alone and choose to wander off at bad times. They are either wandering to explore something or to get away from a negative stimulus.
Unfortunately, this has the high potential to result in death for many of the wanderers. Almost 50% of all children with autism are prone to wander, so this can end in tragedy more often than most people think – especially since most of the kids cannot communicate a phone number or address to allow them to be rescued.
Congress is attempting to take action with Avonte’s law which has several methods to allow for the reduction of wandering and the tragedies due to it. The law would educate the public, police, first responders and schools about the symptoms of wandering and how to prevent it in the first place.
Why they wander
Many children on the autism spectrum wander when they feel like no one is watching them and they have an opportunity to go towards something interesting. So, keeping eyes on and keeping the child engaged during activities is a way to prevent wandering episodes. If wandering is done when they are under duress, try to give the child a safe space to go to.
This can be with a specific person or a specific area of the house or school, but if they are having trouble then they need a ‘safe zone’ that they can wander too without any trouble and where they can be found and supervised.
In addition, for wandering at home, speak to your neighbours and introduce your child to them. That way if the children wander outside the house, the neighbours can intervene and speak to your child before contacting you. Do the same thing for first responders, teachers, and co-workers to have as many eyes on your child as possible, and then the risks can be significantly reduced.
Finally, an ID bracelet, necklace, or something that can be snapped to clothing and easily seen can help give perfect information to anyone who finds the child. Having a name, phone number, and address can really help out, as well as any special instructions to help them communicate through the autism.
Various apps can also connect to this ID, and most even have QR codes to instantly connect someone with a parent or guardian. That way, someone who is trained to look for ID tags (which most first responders are trained to do) can instantly look at the tag and know what to do and who to contact.
The more people who know how to help you, then the better chance you have to bring your kid home safe and not become another tragic statistic. If you know of a child or even have one who is a wanderer, be sure to take the steps to prevent wandering from becoming a problem.