Help Protect Children with Autism
Autism comes in a variety of forms. Currently there is no simple test to diagnose someone facing autism. There are mandatory screenings for milestones when a child is young, but it is difficult to tell at such a young age if a child actually has autism. Most often autism is noticed during the early school years. Even then a child has to go through multiple screenings, see specialized therapists, and be monitored before a diagnosis is made.
Children on the spectrum engage in many behaviors that can be incredibly stressful to their families and harmful to themselves. Among these is wandering, “eloping,” or bolting—leaving a safe space without the knowledge of caregivers.
This behavior can be dangerous—children are unprepared for weather and traffic, and drowning becomes a major concern. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism. Additionally, many children who exhibit wandering behavior often cannot communicate their name, address, or phone number to someone trying to help.
Prevention is key to keeping a child on the spectrum safe from wandering. The “Big Red Safety Box” contains home alarms for doors, shoe IDs for children to wear, visual aid stop signs for the child to understand not to open doors, silicone wristbands, as well as many written materials and forms to share information about the wanderer with family, friends, and law enforcement.
Here is a quote from one family who benefited from a Big Red Safety Box provided by funds GreaterGood.org granted to the National Autism Association:
“We immediately installed the door chimes and posted the stop signs on every door that lead outside. Knowing that we were not alone in trying to solve the potentially life-threatening situation that wandering brings helped a great deal. Our son is still prone to wander, but we have equipment in place to assist us at a moment’s notice. I know if we ever need further support from the National Autism Association, they will assist us with not just resources, but also with hope.”