The holiday season brings joy and excitement for families, yet poses unique challenges, particularly for parents of children with autism. Ensuring the safety of your autistic or disabled child during this time demands thoughtful planning and proactive measures to address potential wandering risks.
Understanding Autism and Wandering
Autism can present in various ways, and wandering or elopement is a common concern for parents. Hence, it’s crucial to understand why autistic children may wander. Sensory overload, fascination with particular objects, or a desire to escape overwhelming environments are all factors to consider.
Prevalence of Wandering:
- According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, nearly half (49%) of children diagnosed with autism engage in wandering behaviours.
- A survey conducted by the Interactive Autism Network reported that 49% of parents of children with autism have experienced their child wandering.
Age and Wandering:
- Wandering incidents often peak around age 4 but continue to be a concern throughout childhood and adolescence.
- Adolescents and autistic adults can also be at risk of wandering.
- Autistic Children who have limited verbal communication skills, intellectual disabilities, or difficulties with social interactions are at a higher risk of wandering.
- Unpredictable or impulsive behaviour, fascination with water, and a strong attraction to certain objects or locations may contribute to wandering incidents.
Dangers and Consequences:
- Wandering incidents can pose significant dangers, including exposure to traffic, drowning, falls, and other hazards.
- Tragically, some cases of wandering have resulted in injury or death.
How to ensure your child’s safety
Begin by making your home a secure environment. Ensuring front doors and gates are secured and alarms armed to prevent accidental exits. Create a designated safe space within your home where your child can retreat when feeling overwhelmed. Make sure this space is equipped with comforting items and sensory tools.
Communication is Key
Establish clear communication strategies with your child. Use visual aids, social stories, or a visual schedule to help them understand the plans for the day. Reinforce the importance of staying close in crowded or unfamiliar places.
Talking or reading about the upcoming day can ensure your child is prepared and understands the sights, sounds and people they may encounter.
My Buddy Gard GPS Watch and Tracker
In the quest to provide holistic support, My Buddy Gard GPS Watch and Tracker has emerged as a game-changer for parents who may have a child prone to wandering. Founded by CEO Erika Wager, the company was born out of a personal need to ensure her elderly mother’s independence. Recognising the potential to extend this support to others. My Buddy Gard is also a registered NDIS provider, offering funding if the My Buddy gard assists your child in meeting NDIS goals.
Holistic Support through Technology
My Buddy Gard’s GPS Watch and Tracker isn’t just a tracking device; it’s piece of mind for parents. The accompanying app, personally built by Erika Wager, allows users to add their entire support team on one screen. Because of this additional feature it ensures that everyone involved in caring for the child has real-time access to the location and well-being of the child, promoting a collaborative and supportive approach.
Encouraging Independence with Peace of Mind
For parents of autistic children, fostering independence is a crucial aspect of their child’s development. The My Buddy Gard GPS Watch and Tracker play a vital role in this journey. While allowing your child to practice independent skills, such as navigating public spaces, the device simultaneously gives parents peace of mind knowing they can monitor their child’s location and well-being.
A worry-free festive season
As we celebrate the festive and holiday season, technology may actually become your ally. Ensuring a joyful and worry-free experience for both you and your autistic child. The combination of practical strategies, such as creating a safe home environment and clear communication, with innovative tools like the My Buddy Gard GPS Watch and Tracker, provides a comprehensive approach to safeguarding your child during this special time. Embrace these measures to confidently navigate festivities, ensuring your child’s safety and fostering their independence.