10 Ways to Protect Kids with Autism from Wandering

by John Paul Marosy

April is National Autism Awareness Month - Protect Kids from Wandering or "Bolting"

Autism is considered the fastest growing developmental disability, now affecting one in every 100 children.  A top concern among parents caring for a child with autism is wandering or "bolting." Tragically, children with autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools,help kids with autism ponds, and lakes and, as such, drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism.

As part of its education initiative to help protect children with autism and in recognition that April is National Autism Awareness Month, LoJack Corporation offers the following tips from expert John Paul Marosy, author and expert on caregiving and the issue of wandering.

Advise Local First Responders – Fill out a 9-1-1  Disability Indicator Form and submit it to your local law enforcement  agency, which will alert police during an emergency that a person residing at  that address may require special assistance. 

Inform Your Neighbors – Print and fill out this Neighbor Form and give to your neighbors with a picture of your child, physical characteristics, emergency contact  information and details about how to effectively approach/communicate with and  calm your child.

Place STOP or DO NOT ENTER signs on doors – These powerful visual  cues and reminders can help stop a child from bolting.  

Secure Your Home – Use deadbolt locks, keep doors and windows  locked and install an alarm system/alert chimes on doors. Consider motion  detectors and window bars.

Teach Your Child to Swim – Because people with autism are drawn to  water, such as pools, ponds and lakes, swimming lessons can be invaluable.

Eliminate Triggers for Wandering – If your child has a fixation on  certain sounds or objects that draw him/her to investigate and wander,  eliminate those distractions.

Get an ID Bracelet/Necklace – List emergency contact information on  personal IDs and on tags for personal belongings.

Use a Monitor/Camera at Bedtime – A sound or video monitor provides  constant surveillance, even when you are in a different room.

Install a Fence – Set latches high and out of reach on the outside  of gates.

Consider a Personal Tracking Device – A Radio Frequency device is  ideal for people at risk of wandering because it has strong, silent signals  that operate even if the child has wandered into a body of water, dense  foliage, concrete garage or steel structure.

John Paul Marosy is General Manager of LoJack SafetyNet

Updated August 2012