If you read my blog last night, you might remember that after our youngest son's IEP meeting, we attended our Autism Support Group meeting at his preschool a couple hours later.
The primary topic of the night was safety and one of the resources passed out was a Family Wandering Emergency Plan worksheet from the AWAARE Collaboration. Although I've been to hundreds of autism related websites, this was one I had not seen before and I'm happy to be sharing it with you now because the resources on the site are informational, easy to understand and important to be aware of and relay to your family, friends and neighbors.
The Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education (AWAARE) Collaboration is a working group of six national non-profit autism organizations whose mission is to reduce autism-related wandering issues and deaths. Wandering can happen at all ages.
Having a youngest who is prone to bolt and wander and an oldest who when involved in a special interest is not as aware of his surroundings, I have had many nightmares about worst case scenarios. It only takes a couple seconds for a child to wander off and even if your child isn't known to be a wanderer, it only takes one time for something bad to happen.
AWAARE helps empower you to take action as a family by using preventative measures in advance but in case a family wandering emergency does happen, you will have a plan in place.
This free Family Wandering Emergency Plan can be printed directly from the AWAARE website.
They also have a great Frequently Asked Questions page. One of the most common questions is:
Why would a child or adult with autism wander off? Their answer:
Many reasons. Mainly, a person with autism will wander to either get to something or away from something. Like dementia, persons with autism gravitate towards items of interest. This could be anything from a road sign they once saw to a neighbor’s pool to a merry-go-round in the park. Other times, they may want to escape an environment if certain sounds or other sensory input becomes bothersome. Outdoor gatherings present an especially large problem because it is assumed that there are more eyes on the child or adult with autism. However, heavy distractions coupled with an over-stimulating setting can lead to a child or adult wandering off without notice. School settings are also an issue, especially those that have un-fenced or un-gated playgrounds. A new, unfamiliar, or unsecured environment, such as a relative’s home, may also trigger wandering, as well as episodes of distress, meltdowns, or times when a child or adult with autism has certain fears or anxiety.
AWAARE also has a link on their website to the Big Red Safety Box program, a free resource (based on certain qualifying terms and conditions) provided through the National Autism Association through a generous grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.
We ordered ours tonight. There is a limit to one per family. I am not sure if it is USA specific. To get more information, please visit:
Keeping kids and adults on the autism spectrum safe can be a lot easier when we empower ourselves with resources and tools to do so. Please feel free to pass along this information to anyone you know who might find it of interest.
When we let our light shine, we help shine a light on others as well!