There's a big room with all kinds of booths full of good stuff for special needs kiddos and their families. The idea is to just wander the room, meeting vendors and picking up brochures, pamphlets, business cards, anything that lets you know what all is out there for the special needs population.
I always manage to find a few things I haven't heard of. In fact, last year's walk is where I discovered the special needs dental clinic we just took Lily to for her first ever check-up. Click here in case you missed that post.
One particular booth had several things to do with keeping children with autism safe. While no one really wants to think about these kinds of things, there was so much good information there that I wanted to share it with you.
A fairly common concern for many parents of autistic children is wandering. A child with autism doesn't always understand the importance of staying with a parent or caregiver and will wander off on their own. I think it goes without saying that the thought of a nonverbal child simply wandering off is the stuff of nightmares.
To help prevent the incidence of wandering, there's a great website, www.awaare.org that is definitely worth a visit. The information you'll find there is valuable for all parents, not just those with special needs.
Since Lily is nonverbal, I also picked up some handy decals to stick on all of our cars. Should we ever be in an accident and are unconscious, the sticker alerts emergency first-responders to look in the glove box for an Autism Elopement Alert Form. This form contains specific information regarding the Bird.
That same form is also important to have filled out and on hand in your home in the case a child is missing and wandering is suspected.
Another good idea is to have a plan in place in the event that a child does wander off. If you already have a plan of action ready, those first few precious moments of time aren't wasted trying to decide what to do. This form, A Family Wandering Emergency Plan, can help you put together exactly what needs to be done the moment a child wanders off.
How about some ideas for child identification?
While you may not put ID on your child on a daily basis, it could definitely come in handy when visiting crowded places, like amusement parks, airports, shopping malls, or on field trips.
Who's Shoes ID is a velcro fastener that attaches to one of your child's shoes like so:
In the event that your child goes missing, it can be opened up to reveal the child's name, your name and contact information, as well as any relevant medical conditions.
Not a fan of the velcro or worried your child will remove it? Consider a Safety Tattoo:
And in case you don't feel good about putting your name or phone number out there for the world to see, they even offer tattoos with a bar code type thing that you can scan with a smart phone to read the information, like the one below:
I hope and pray that none of us ever has a need to use a Family Wandering Emergency Plan or First Responder Form. Choosing not to think about something unpleasant does not guarantee that it won't happen.
The reality is that all of us need to be prepared. It's simply part of being a responsible parent.
So take a few minutes today to keep your child safe.
You'll be glad you did.