This is a blog post by Dennis Debbaudt, the father of a young man with autism and founder of Autism Risk & Safety Management (link to www.autismriskmanagement.com)
Whether living on the autism spectrum or not, we’re all part of the human condition. As humans, we all need the essentials of everyday life. We all need to work, play and love. We need work that we take pride in. We do our best and reap the rewards of doing so. We need to take a break from work and have some fun. Sports, the arts, taking a walk in the park, playing a game, reading a book. We find activities we like and get a chance to smile and relax while doing so. We need to make friends among family, neighbors, classmates, co-workers and the people we meet along the road of life. And we need to feel safe and secure while pursuing these activities.
Addressing safety and risk can be accomplished by making a plan that meets our unique needs, then making that plan a part of our daily routines.
The ultimate plan will be yours to design with people that you love and trust. The goal? That everyone can work, have fun and friends in a safe and risk free environment!
This month, Autism Speaks has updated the Autism Safety Project and released new information on safety in the home, safety in the community, and sexual abuse and other forms of mistreatment. The Autism Safety Project also includes information for first responders and other professionals who may interact with children and adults with autism. Please consider the information here as a starting point for discussion! Visit www.autismspeaks.org/safety to learn more!
Safety is a critical part of all of our lives, whether we are at home or out in the community, alone or with loved ones. Being aware of our surroundings and taking precautions to stay safe is even more important for individuals with autism and their families. The Autism Safety Project is designed to provide families affected by autism with tips, information, expert advice and resources so that everyone in our community can stay out of harm’s way.
Since we have launched the updated Autism Safety Project this week we wanted to know your best tips and ideas about teaching safety to your family and friends.
In this week’s episode ‘Missing‘ of NBC‘s Parenthood, Max’s plans to go to the museum are ruined because both Kristina and Adam have commitments with work. Haddy is left to watch Max, but is involved with a school project. When Haddie is immersed in work and not being vigilant, Max leaves and tries to find his way to the museum.
Has your child ever gone missing? How have you reacted? Do you have protocol in place if a situation like this occurs?
The Experts Speak says,
“A missing child. Fear, panic, seemingly hundreds of phone calls, 911 and a police car outside. Now add Asperger’s to the mix.
In this episode of Parenthood, Max gets tired of waiting for his museum visit, accuses his family of breaking their promises, and decides to take matters into his own hands. So he sets out to go to the museum by himself, sending his entire family into full-blown panic mode. It’s scary enough for any child to be missing, but when you know the child has Asperger’s, you also know the child doesn’t have the usual respect for strangers or fear of danger that protects most kids.
Every year, children with autism spectrum disorders go missing from their families. Most are returned safely. Unfortunately, some are not, and the worst imaginable happens. We read of these cases in the newspaper, and we know that another family is destroyed.”
Also check out, ‘Why Do Children with Autism Wander and Bolt from Safe Places?‘
This week we want to hear your family’s experiences teaching “traffic and pedestrian safety,” to your children with autism.
Many families have serious concerns about their children with autism and traffic dangers while walking to school, playing in the neighborhood, and doing everyday activities in your area. Let’s learn from each other by sharing what worked, or in some cases, didn’t work for your family.
How did you teach your child to be careful in and around traffic? Did you find any books, specific curriculum, or other resources helpful? Were there useful websites? What can you recommend to other families to help keep their child safe?
Illinois HB 1610 was signed into law on Wednesday, July 6th by Governor Pat Quinn. Named James’ Law, the law amends the Emergency Telephone Systems act to allow for bracelets which can be remotely activated upon alert from a missing person’s registered caregiver. The bill was a labor of love, sponsored by Illinois State Representative, Karen May, with significant contributions from Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni and Illinois State Representative Patti Bellock.
Autism Speaks Chicagoland Chapter board member, Nancy O’Brien, approached Mayor DiCianni in 2007 after enduring a two-hour ordeal when her son, James, went missing. The law was named James’ Law in his honor and will be an additional measure to help ensure emergency personnel are able to respond quickly when someone needs assistance and can return them safely.
At the signing, Nancy shared her story:
Hello everyone, I’m James’ Mom, Nancy O’Brien
4 years ago, on a Saturday morning, we were having a typical Saturday morning. My husband, Jim, was doing some laundry and I was upstairs doing other chores. A few minutes turned into a nightmare.
My husband came upstairs and asked as he had asked a million times before, “Is he with you?” and I said, “No?” and we both immediately headed for the door. I was in flip flops and my husband grabbed his car keys…I started running and he started driving. As I ran down the street, I immediately called out to my neighbors and everyone dropped what they were doing. James was gone.
We are blessed to live on a street with neighbors who have become our best friends. And doubly blessed to live in a community that cares. As I rounded the corner, I ran into the convenience store–”Have you seen my son?”–people stopped and started looking….I ran into the fire station–”My son is lost!”–I started to run some more. I was stopped by police officers. “Go home Mrs. O’Brien. We need you home when we find him.”
Two hours and fourteen minutes. The longest two hours of our lives. I heard stories for days afterwards from friends who were gathered in a fast food restaurant when a paramedic came in yelling that a child was lost. A couple who stopped their garage sale, found a picture of James and photocopied it and started handing it out in downtown Elmhurst. My dear neighbor who went to Salt Creek and prayed he wouldn’t find James. The kids who drove their bikes up and down the Prairie Path and stopped everyone.
Just as the County Bloodhound dogs had started on their trek, a lovely Jewel employee, who happened to be a special ed major at Elmhurst College, spotted James in the DVD section with a bag of Chesse Puffs. She knew the he was special needs and that he shouldn’t be alone.
Two hours later, he was found.
Thank God for this neighborhood and for our neighbors and for our Mayor, who listened when I asked him afterwards that we find a GPS system to help find our kids.
You have given our family and many families of kids with autism and other disorders and adults with Alzheimer’s some peace today.
We did something good today. Thank you for being such good neighbors.
Welcome to this installment of ‘Topic of the Week.’ These topics stem from submissions from our community. If there is anything in particular that you would like to see featured, please contact us!
Ensuring the safety of a person with autism is important and often difficult. People with autism are faced with a different set challenges, and one must be prepared for an emergency or crisis situation.
How do you teach your child safety? What are some ways you explain danger? Have you or your child ever been in an emergency situation?
Autism Speaks Family Services has created the Autism Safety Project, an online tool kit for individuals with autism, families, and first responders that provides information and strategies to promote safety in emergency situations.