Keep your eyes on your child around the clock, and fears of danger might fade. But it's impossible to watch a child with autism all day, every day. You must eat, cook meals, work, shop, sleep, and rest too.
Autism safety products might reduce your stress. Tools could help to prevent a problem from starting, and if the worst happens, other tools can help you step in and help.
Here are 11 autism safety products experts consider must-haves for parents hoping to protect their children.
Wandering Prevention Tools
People with autism often wander, and experts say neglect isn't part of the problem. Parents do all they can to watch over their children, but even one minute of inattentiveness could lead to a child darting out the door and into danger.
These tools may help to address wandering concerns:
1. Big Red Safety Box: This free tool from the National Autism Organization contains checklists, emergency plans, forms, door alarms, ID tags, and more. This is an appropriate investment for children of any age.
2. Window locks: Slipping out the door is easy for children with quick fingers and developed arm muscles. This tool connects the window to the frame, making full opening impossible.
Each lock is about $20. You'll need one for every window in the home. Older children may quickly figure out how to disable the tool, but younger children might not.
3. Door locks: Sliding doors are especially dangerous for young children. They slide open without a sound, and they typically lead to backyards, patios, pools, and other spaces filled with danger.
Locks block quick opening, and they're installed far from the ground, out of the reach of young fingers. Each lock is about $25.
Travel Safety Products
In 2017, 6 out of every 10 Americans went on a vacation. Plenty of families touched by autism enjoy long trips away from the home to relax and reconnect. All families must also leave the house for appointments, shopping trips, and more.
Each time you leave your home presents an opportunity for wandering. Sometimes, it's hard to reconnect when you've been separated. Try these tools:
4. Seatbelt guards: These tools slide over seatbelts, making the button inaccessible to tiny fingers and thumbs. They slide on easily, but they're easy for adults and neurotypical individuals to remove.
Very young children simply can't remove these tools, but older children might watch their parents and learn how to do so. Buy two for about $20.
5. Safety harnesses: Holding your child's hand isn't always feasible or ideal. Some children resist touch, and parents often need both of their hands to carry tools and supplies. Harnesses connect parents and children through a secure tether.
Choose a size appropriate for your child, select the length of lead you prefer, and you're ready to walk with safety. Prices start at $30, but they can climb based on size.
About a third of autistic children are nonverbal. If they slip away from their parents, they can't ask for help to get back home again. Questions about their name, phone number, or address will go unanswered.
Identification tools ensure that your child can get back home to you, even if the child never says a word. Options include the following:
6. Tattoo identification: Ensure that you are the first to know when your lost child is found. Use temporary identification tools, like these write-on identification stickers, to keep your child's information up-to-date.
These products are geared for young children. A pack of six costs about $10.
7. Alert Me Bands: Sturdy, fabric bands contain your name, number, and vital information about your child. They are colorful and bright, so spectators will easily spot them. Parents can put them on quickly, but it's hard for little fingers to remove the bands.
These products are ideal for small children, but older children might benefit from them if they promise not to take them off. Prepare to pay about $25 per band.
8. High-tech bracelets: Combine a visual bracelet with technology to keep you connected. Strangers can't read the data, so you're safe from leering eyes. Bracelets also have QR codes that link finders with a specified web page with your contact information. You'll get notified, with a location, each time the web page is accessed.
New bracelets aren't available now, but they should be coming back soon.
Pool Safety Tips
Children with autism are at high risk of drowning when compared to other children. They tend to be fascinated by water, and they may not have the muscle strength to haul their bodies out of water when they fall in. The best way to prevent these issues is to ensure that you know when your child is near water.
Pool alarms are plentiful. Here are some good options:
9. Poolguard Outdoor Pool Gate Alarm: Attach this alarm to the gate that surrounds your pool. When the gate is open for more than a few seconds, the alarm sounds. You must turn off the alarm by pushing a button on the sensor, so you must investigate the source visually.
Older children will figure this out quickly, but young children may not. Prepare to pay more than $65.
10. Poolguard Safety Buoy: Use this tool to detect movement within a small pool or spa. Move the sensor near you, and you'll always be ready to step in if your child is in danger. This tool works for children of all ages.
11. Above Ground Pool Alarm: Use this tool for aboveground pools, and don't worry about drilling a hole to make it work. You must be near the pool to hear the alarm, but it's quite loud and effective. Prepare to pay about $80 for the tool.
Prepare Your Own Safety Kit
Most families need multiple tools to keep their children safe. You might benefit from door alarms and pool alarms, for example. Don't be afraid to mix and match to keep your children safe.
Consider talking to your child's therapy team for more suggestions. Your child's pediatrician or therapist may have suggestions about common issues for your child. You might be able to walk through your home with your child’s therapist to spot dangers you've missed in the past.
Ask any other specialists who work with your child for their input. Your child’s safety is of paramount importance, so get as much input from professionals who know your child as possible.
Study Confirms: Autism Wandering Common and Scary. (August 2018). Autism Speaks.
Disability and Safety: Information on Wandering (Elopement). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Issue of Wandering for Individuals Living With Autism. Autism Society.
Reported Wandering Behavior Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual Disability. (July 2017). The Journal of Pediatrics.
NAA's Big Red Safety Box. National Autism Association.
Window Guardian Lock. Autism Community Store.
Patio Door Guardian. Autism Community Store.
Six in 10 Americans Took a Vacation in 2017. (January 2018). Gallup.
Home. Angel Guard.
Safety Harnesses and Tethers. Children's Harnesses by Elaine.
Safety Tat. Autism Products.
Autism Statistics and Facts. Autism Speaks.
Home. Alert Me Bands.
Home. Keep Me Safe IDs.
Pool Safety Special Focus: Drowning Prevention and Autism. (August 2019). Pool Safely.
8 Best Pool Alarms to Keep Your Family Safe. (September 2017). Swim University.