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.
- 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
- ULTIMATE DOOR LEVER LOCK most children can't open! Our lock requires an adult to press buttons on BOTH sides of the lock to open and close. Similar products can be easily defeated by little ones.
- EASY ONE HAND OPERATION. Got your hands full? Carrying your child in one arm? You can open this lock with just 2 fingers. Simply press the release button on both sides and swing the lever up. Both Men and Women can effortlessly open and close the lock with just one hand.
- RUGGED ABS CONSTRUCTION makes this lock a durable safety accessory. This has a sturdy hinge mechanism that flows smoothly while resisting damage or breaks. Get several of these 3-pack sets to baby proof your entire home. The attractive white color goes well with all decor.
- SUPER EASY TO INSTALL. Simply stick to your door with the included 3M adhesive backing. Holds strong with a very sturdy grip. Then lets go when you are ready to remove the lock. No tools needed. No need to drill holes. Comes with complete easy installation instructions including full color photos. Takes just seconds to install.
- 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE ensures this will quickly become your favorite no-risk purchase. Many people are stocking up with 3 or 4 of these to place around their home for highly effective baby and toddler proofing. HURRY AND BUY NOW while we have this very popular improved door lock in plentiful supply. It makes a fine baby shower gift, birthday gift, holiday present, or anniversary gift for the loving parent in your life.
- CHILD SAFETY BUCKLE: Wididi’s seat belt buckle cover has been created with your family’s safety in mind. The child proof seat belt lock prevents your little one from purposely or accidentally unbuckling their seatbelt, exposing them to the risk of accident.
- MAXIMUM CAR SAFETY: Aside from making your life easier, this seat belt locking clip encourages car safety, enabling you to drive with ease knowing all passengers are securely fastened in their seats.
- PREMIUM QUALITY: Our seatbelt buckle safety covers are made from the finest heavy duty plastic and undergo state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and strict quality control.
- EASY TO INSTALL & USE: Users can simply place the buckle guard over the current seatbelt buckle To release the belt, you can just push a slim object like a car key or another buckle through the cover’s opening.
- UNIVERSAL FIT: Unlike most other car safety manufacturers, Wididi has managed to create a child safety buckle cover that will fit over 99% of cars. The car accessory measures 2.8 x 1 x 2 inches allowing it to easily fit over the buckle.
- Includes 4 window/door alarms, each with 3 adjustable settings off/chime/alarm
- Loud 120 decibel alarm sounds when door or window opens, helps deter intruder and alert residence
- Easy and convenient to install, requires no wiring, mounting hardware and instructions Included, designed for indoor use only
- Built in low battery test button to easily check battery life, Includes four LR44 batteries for each alarm
- Comes with a 90 day limited warranty; Perfect for home, garage, apartment, dorm room, mobile home, RV, office and more
- FREE HANDS FOR PARENTS- Whether you prefer a hands-free leash or a traditional one, we've got you covered. The leash is provided with a convenient detachable padded neoprene handle so that it can be switched from hands-on to hands-free in a matter of seconds! The waistband included has an adjustable length(from 28’’ to 49’’), it has a locking buckle so will not accidentally open, and a sturdy metal D-ring for attaching the leash. Enjoy a hands-free leash belt that lets you freely use your hands
- SAFE and COMFORTABLE– The HappyVk child harness with a leash will keep your kid comfortable and safe at the same time. For safety reasons, we used heavy-duty metal clips and D-rings for leash connecting. The chest strap is closed with a Locking Buckle so for kids not be able to open it. The harness is very adjustable, lightweight, for best comfort. The breathable mesh cloth on the back is highly increasing the comfort. For adult's convenience, the leash has a detachable padded neoprene handle.
- HIGHLY ADJUSTABLE and EASY TO USE- Our kid safety harness is made to fit children of 1 to 4 years old. The soft cotton shoulder and chest straps can be adjusted to find the most comfortable position for each child. The chest strap can adjust on the horizontal, but it also moves up and down for best positioning. The leash is easy to be attached/detached to the harness by using a metal clip. The clips are having a 360° rotation head so the leash will not tangle.
- ANTI-LOST - Keep your children close to you while out in public and at the same time give them freedom. The leash length can be adjusted from 39ʺ to 78ʺ, depending on indoor or outdoor activity made. The leash harness can be used on multiple occasions, in crowded places: shopping places, amusement park (like Disneyland), airport or during travel and daily walking.
- HIGH QUALITY AND ATTRACTIVE DESIGN - We created an original design for the embroidery on our safety harness for kids, to make sure we made it unique. This adorable design will make your kids love it and enjoy to wear it everywhere. Sturdy, we made it of high-quality materials, with durable and robust metal swivel hooks and D- rings. Our harness for children comes with a drawstring bag, to keep it clean and easy to store.
- 【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
- 【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
- 【Rotatable and Reflective】Built-in reflective tape keeps your child safe in the dark, while a 360 degree swivel clip allows free and flexible movement. Your kids will stay safe without feeling constricted
- (Toddler Target seller is the only authentic seller of the Toddler Target) LEARNING MADE EASY: Toddler target attracts kids attention to the toilet bowl by projecting bright green target into the toilet, helping boys aim to keep the bathroom clean!
- LOW MAINTAINANCE: The unit mounts to the lid of the toilet to keep your seat pee free. Batteries Included!
- BRILLIANT NIGHTLIGHT: the light also functions as a night light to help with night vision. Brilliant glow all day.
- EASY TO INSTALL: Clean the toilet area with alcohol wipe before installing. First, peal the sticker off the back of Toddler Target. Second, press firmly against the lid for 90 seconds.
- SATISFACTION GUARANTEED: 30 day guarantee. Contact us with any issues!
- Keep toddlers close to you and at the same time give them independence during indoor or outdoor activities.
- Easy to use: All you need to do is connect the wristbands to adult’s and kids’ hands respectively. The shrinking chain can extend up to 1.5 meters and the wrist strap circumference of kids hand side (the smaller side) can be adjusted up to 14 CM.
- Soft & Comfortable: soft double layers of hook and loop for kids’ hands, not easy to take off by themselves. The size of wrist strap can be adjusted according to your need, the soft sponge pad in the wrist strap make it comfortable to wear for both adult and kids.
- Durable: The connecting rope is made of stainless steel and wrapped with plastic, never worry this safety harness will be cut by knife. It is linked to the wrist straps with metal connectors that can freely rotate 360 degrees.
- Anti-lost: Only used to prevent children from losing when they go out, but do not prevent children from falling down and can’t be used as a walking training equipment. Suggest for children aged 4 and over.
- Extra long, fade resistant, waterproof, easily visible to police and EMT
- HELP TO ENSURE THEIR PROTECTION & SAFETY: If they are in a situation where you are hurt and can’t speak, this card will do the talking for you.
- MAKE SURE THAT TEACHERS, ASSISTANTS, CAMP COUNSELORS AND FIRST RESPONDERS ARE AWARE OF YOUR MEDICAL CONDITION(S): First responders will know who they are and any medical condition(s), and medications they are taking so that they can perform treatment without compromising their health.
- 100% MADE IN THE U.S.A. 32 PT. CARDSTOCK WEIGHT – OUR THICKEST EVER: The card is weighty and durable – about as thick as a quarter!
- 【UPGRADED MAGNETIC UNLOCK DESIGN】Our kids wrist leash adopts upgraded magnetic unlock design to prevent kids from pulling off or wriggling out of their wristbands, which is safer than the older one. With this toddler wrist leash, you can free from worries that you kids get lost or play in the dangerous place.
- 【REFLECTIVE STRIP DESIGN】 It is featured by the reflective strip design which makes it clear to see the wrist link even in the evening. Keeping your baby under your nose while giving them more private space.
- 【2 PACK】2 pack toddler leash to meet your different demands. 4.92ft/150cm pink anti lost hand belt makes your kids closer to you in the crowded place, and 8.2ft/250cm blue anti lost hand belt offers kids more freedom in the open place. In addition, they are also suitable for the family with 2 kids.
- 【STAINLESS STEEL MATERIAL】 The baby leash is made from anti-cut stainless steel materials. Its surface includes PU materials which won’t be cut unless special tools are used. This child wrist link is linked by a 360 degrees rotating metal connector to provide flexible and safe baby’s activities.
- 【COMFORTABLE & DURABLE】 The safety baby wrist strap is made of ultra-soft breathable sponge pad and corner nylon hasp tape to avoid wrist scratch and sweat. It also can be connected to your hands, backpacks and baby carriages when you are in the crowded place such as the supermarket, park, shopping mall, street, super market, subway, playground, scenic area, railway station, elevator and vegetable market etc.
- Fade resistant, Weatherproof, Waterproof, Easy to apply, Easily visible.
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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