Safety Ideas and Emergency Preparedness

Every parent wants their child to be nurtured in the most loving and caring environment. Today’s society requires parents to be much more vigilant in ensuring their child’s safety and wellbeing. As children with autism grow older, it is important to identify certain strategies in the home, school and community that will minimize certain risk factors and enhance their safety. Advancements in technology have helped families make their homes and community a safer place.

Home Security Systems

Home security systems can help parents monitor when doors and windows of the house are opened and closed. This safety feature immediately notifies parents that a child may be walking out of the house or climbing out of a window. Locksmiths may also be a valuable resource as they can provide additional ideas to secure your home effectively. Wandering away from the home can pose a significant safety issue especially since many children with autism do not know how to swim and are drawn to water.

Global Positioning System (GPS) Technology

As cell phone technology has evolved and the transmitter towers have spread throughout the country, GPS technology is now available to track a person’s whereabouts. This is extremely helpful if local law enforcement is needed to assist in locating a lost or missing person. Both the Alzheimer and Autism community are taking advantage of this new technology as it dramatically reduces the time it takes to locate a person and substantially increases the success rate in finding a person. Parents and caregivers should also identify where bodies of water, train tracks and other areas of interest exist in their neighborhood as to mobilize prevention teams there as quickly as possible. Learn all about available GPS systems on the Amber Alert GPS Web site.

First Responder Strategies

As awareness of autism continues to grow, local municipalities are training their first responders and emergency medical personnel with best practices techniques for working with people with autism.

autism decalYou can be proactive in helping first responders by putting a decal on your home and vehicle windows to alert first responders that there is a person with autism inside that may need special attention. This is especially true for nonverbal persons with autism. A fire fighter may call out in an emergency situation, asking if there is anyone needing assistance. Once aware that there is a nonverbal, or potentially nonverbal, person present, they will search the area differently. A person with autism may become frightened of the sirens and flashing lights that accompany first responders and emergency personnel and hide or even act inappropriately. It’s a good idea to incorporate an emergency plan that you can demonstrate or show your child, especially in terms of what to expect in an emergency situation.

Window decals can be ordered from The Autism Society of Illinois, The Autism Society of America, The Awareness Depot and at

Request a Meeting

It may be helpful to meet with members of your local fire department and police department to provide them with important information about your child. Discuss your child’s behaviors, likes and dislikes, favorite places, age, address, telephone number, email address, name of the school or treatment center your child attends, emergency contact information and any sensory issues that could present in an emergency.

Pay it Forward

Share the following with first responders and others to increase awareness in your community:

Characteristics of People on the Autism Spectrum

Identification Tools

Your child should have identification and contact information on his/her person at all times. Personalized jewelry, clothing tags and pocket cards and more are available: Autism Speaks ID Kit

Printed Information Sheets

Prepare and print copies of your child’s “Information Sheet”. Make sure it includes specific information about your child including a picture for quick distribution in case of an emergency. Your preparation will save valuable time mobilizing resources and help speed up efforts to find your child. Information sheets should include the following: