I want my son to increase his fine motor skills. I do not, however, want him to be able to unbuckle a seatbelt. When your disabled child acquires a new skill, sometimes it is a mixed blessing. Particularly if that new skill puts them in danger. They now have the fine motor skills to open a seat belt (yay!) but do not have the desire or behavioral skills to leave the seat belt on when the car is moving.
So what do you do?
As my friend Judi often says, you either teach the skill or accommodate the lack of skill.
In this case, I am making accommodations.
When Kevin was a baby, he didn’t have a natural curiosity that many babies and toddlers have. Or, he may have had the curiosity but not the motor planning skills to make it happen. We never had to even baby proof the house. My how times change!
Autism Safety and Emergency Plans
Several years ago, I was a Fellow for Save the Children. My role with them was to inform and encourage disability families to create an Emergency Plan. I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on, but it hasn’t. Still, I continue to education (read: nag!) parents about this.
We all worry about how to keep our kids safe. But when they have autism, are non-verbal or rely on others for mobility, our fears are exacerbated. Parents of disabled children need to develop safety plans, with much more urgency than our non-disabled peers. These plans should be based on how well your child can communicate, health needs, and sensory issues.
Having a family emergency plan is critical! It can help you to find your child if he/she goes missing. An emergency plan also serves to reunite you with your child in the event of a natural disaster or school shooting. The first step in your plan should be increasing awareness both in your child and the community. If your child is not verbal or would have trouble telling others that he or she is lost, a bracelet or other product can give adults helpful information. f your child is an eloper, make sure that all family, caregivers, and school staff know this. Talk with your neighbors and local police about your child’s tendency to wander and make sure that they have up to date information. Here in PA, we have the Premise Alert System (started by my friend Susan!). Many of our police departments recognize this, but it’s a great form to take to your local police and fire stations, even if you’re not in PA.Premise-Alert-Form
Teaching Autism Safety Skills
Have regular and frequent safety talks with your child. Many children with autism learn from repetition, so repeating rules and procedures may work for you. It’s important to be aware of comorbid conditions, so that information is presented in a way that doesn’t exacerbate conditions like anxiety.
Parents should do this on their own, and no rely on a school to make this happen. There are just too many issues with IEP non-compliance, and safety is too important of an issue. If your child is in a Life Skills Program or another non-traditional curriculum, it may be easier to get this added to the IEP. Regardless, parents should make sure that this happens and the only way to ensure that is if we do it.
I don’t know of any specialist or expert who does evaluations in this area. I think it’s going to all be on Mom and Dad. But you want to make sure that your child is safe in your car and on their ride to/from school. My bus company had to purchase a special seat for Kevin. And I know that they purchased a harness for another child. Like anything else, if you want it in your IEP, follow the process. Note it in parent concerns, discuss it at the IEP meeting, and then get it on a PWN.
Autism Car and Seatbelt Safety
Your child’s needs will determine what you purchase. Research what you can online. Ask your local police department or transportation department. You can find just about everything. There are seatbelt covers, stickers and decals for cars, harnesses, seat belt buckle covers and other products that disable door handles. You can also call the customer service number of your car manufacturer and ask if they have something.
Seat Belt Locking Clips
These are a necessity for a lot of kids. For some, just putting a lock over the seatbelt buckle will do the trick. But, some kids have the dexterity to get them open. In which case, you may want to try a harness that fastens in the back.
Make sure you practice using it. In the event of an emergency, you want to be able to release it quickly. Still, I believe most police officers and EMTs will tell you that a seatbelt is much more important than the risk of not being able to unbuckle it quickly.
Free Autism Safety Kit
Hopefully what I’ve shown you here will get you started on getting what you need. Thankfully most of these products are inexpensive. I know that the NAA offers a free kit for home safety, but I was unable to find a grant or free program for car safety.
Autism Safety Products
Have regular and frequent safety talks with your child. Many children with autism learn from repetition, so repeating rules, expectations, and plans can be beneficial. When you teach safety rules, make sure to list where to use the rules, such as school, the park, or a store. If your child likes to wander or likes to play in water, make sure to spend extra time talking about those safety rules.
Having a plan can help you to find your child if he or she is missing. The first step in your plan should be increasing awareness both in your child and those around him or her.
Have your child practice what to do if he or she is lost. If your child is not verbal or would have trouble telling others that he or she is lost, a bracelet or other product can give responders helpful information. Make sure your child practices how to show the product.
If your child tends to wander away, make sure that all family, caretakers, and school staff know of this pattern. Give them a plastic-coated card with your child’s name, current picture, diagnosis, emergency contact numbers, and what your child does and does not respond well to. Also talk to your neighbors and local police about your child’s tendency to wander and give them the same up-to-date information. Most police stations have systems, such as the PREMISE Alert System, where you can submit a file for your child with special needs and include important information for responders.
Water is another top safety concern. Check all gates, pool covers, toilet locks, and any other safety devices, especially if your child is drawn to water. When your child can start swimming lessons varies, but being able to swim independently is only one benefit of lessons. Children also learn basic water safety rules through early childhood swim programs. Many programs offer adaptive swim lessons for children with autism. These programs are a great way for your child to learn about water safely and comfortably.
Keep in mind that this list is their top sellers. This is also ‘bot-generated’ and updated based upon sales, not my personal opinion of the product.
- Four Pack, Fade resistant, Weatherproof, Waterproof, Easy to apply, Easily visible.
- PREVENTS CHILDREN ESCAPING THEIR CAR SEAT – Safety Buckle Pro seatbelt cover for kids is the answer to a continuously increasing problem, toddlers unbuckling their car seat while you are driving
- PROUDLY DESIGNED IN THE USA – After a rigorous market research we carefully built Safety Buckle Pro seat belt guard with only a small slit and a finger stopper making it easy to install but impossible to unbuckle by kids whether with toys or other buckles
- UNIVERSAL FIT – Made from stronger and more durable ABS plastic material, works on all tested vehicles with standard seatbelts
- LOCKING CLIP - Get a car seat Locking Clip with every seatbelt cover kit, keeps the car seat tighter and more stable
- MULTIPURPOSE - Very helpful also when it comes to special needs children and older people, decreasing significantly the risk of unbuckle the seat belt
- Fade resistant, Weatherproof, Waterproof, Easy to apply, Easily visible.
- Excellent Quality, Durable, Fits Seat Harness, Fade Resistant, Waterproof, Washable
- Re-usable, 100% Polyester fabric, Perfect for daily wear or special outings
- PLEASE MEASURE THE THICKNESS OF YOUR DOOR. Works on most hinged doors up to 1 3/8" thick, including interior and exterior doors, French doors and double doors. Works on doors with levers, knobs, and even large or uniquely shaped handles. Does NOT work on any type of sliding door on a track, such as bifold doors, pocket doors, sliding glass doors, or sliding decorative barn doors. Also does NOT work on metal door frames, patio screen doors, storm doors or double doors that swing BOTH ways.
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- ADULTS CAN CONVENIENTLY LOCK AND UNLOCK THE DOOR FROM BOTH SIDES. Unlike other types of door lever handle locks, you will not get trapped in a room while your child wanders around the house alone. Adults can operate this lock from both sides of the door. Also, if you don’t need it locked for a period of time, simply leave the GlideLok disengaged and you won’t have to unlock every time.
- AS DOOR OPEN CHIME/ALERT：Visitor alert kit for family and business.It would alert you when children or pet entry, and also notice you when customers come.
- MULTIPLE MELODIES & LOUD CHIME: 52 unique ringtones available, 4 volume levels can adjustable(from 30 db to 110 db), you could programed each for a different tune so you know which door is opened.
- EASY TO INSTALL BY YOURSELF: Just plug the receiver into standard outlet, tear the double-side adhesive tape of the door / window sensor and stick them to any door or window.
- MULTI-PLACE SETTINGS RECEIVER: It can be used for Home/Office/Store/Garages/Warehouse and different floors to ensure that alert chime are not miss
- SUPPORT MULTIBLE WIRELESS PAIRINGS： Receiver support to pair with multiple door/window magnetic sensor, also each transmitter can pair with mutilple receivers.
- EASY HAIRCUTS: The gentle alternative to buzzing clippers for individuals with sensory sensitivity. PATENTED
- 17 PCS: (1) Scissor, (7) Combs, (2) Comb Organizers, (4) Finger Inserts, (1) Haircut Guide, (1) Cape (1) Storage Bag.
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- 2yr refund/lifetime guarantee. We serve Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Communities.
- 【Key-Lock Design】 Dr.meter Lock Design ensure that child cannot get rid of anti lost wristbands unless parents unlock the lock (on the child's side) with 2 included keys
- 【2-pack Safety Wristbands】Two is better than one. Blue link can extend up to 8.2 feet, orange link can extend up to 4.92 feet. Both perfect for keeping little ones close by but with more freedom to roam. The upgraded extended cuffs' size will fit all wrists
- 【Comfy and Secure】Ultra-soft, breathable sponge padding and round-cornered velcro straps protects wrists from uncomfortable scratching and sweat while holding the safety wrist cuffs in place
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- 【High Quality Steel Cord】The thickened steel wire is coated in great PU. It will recoil automatically but won't break, crack. It's a must have leashes for your feisty, energetic kids at outdoors
- READY TO WEAR: 100pcs totally. Pins in, ribbon ends surged. Come with safety pins of each. No cutting and pinning required
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- PRESENT THE LOVE: Suitable for lots of important occasions, support and give courage to the one you love and charity
- OUR WARRANTY: We provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee, if you have any question with the products, please feel free to contact us for refund or exchange. We believe that through communication, we can reach the best solution
- 100% SAFE FOOD PURE SILICONE- All the silicone chewable necklaces are safe for kids, Free of any lead, BPA, PVC, The chewing necklace also comes with a breakaway clasp to prevent accidents.
- FUN SENSORY CHEWY TOYS - Our chewing necklace for sensory to help your child chew when they need to oral fixation, calm, or focus. A therapy tool for those with ADHD, SPD, special needs, or kids with a sensory processing disorder. Teether toys are FASHION and PRACTICAL. It will accessorize any outfit and won't embarrass your child when they wear it at school.
- MEDIUM FIRMNESS – Our chewing aids are the perfect texture for chewing. They are soft to the teeth and gums even if still very durable for long term use. Our chewy pendant has a specially textured surface and soft feel, and the medium firmness will be the right fit for most chewers that your kids will love it.
- EASY TO USE - The necklace pendant cord is adjustable so that you can find the right length for your child. Created specifically to be the right size this means your baby can easy to hold and chew. When you need to wash, rinse with water or soapy water.
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More Autism Safety Resources:
- A Guide to Safety, from the Organization for Autism Research
- CHOP Safety Center
- Safety in the Home, from the Autism Society of America
- Philadelphia Police Premise Disability Form
- Chester County Premise Online Form
- General Premise Alert Form, approved in PA
- Premise Alert Form, Spanish
- Vacation Premise Alert Form
- PA Premise Alert FAQ
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