If you’re a parent, you know how important it is to make your home a safe haven for your child. If you’re a parent of a child with ASD, you know this can also be both a challenge and an ongoing process. However, following a few simple tips can help you keep your children safe at home.
Be prepared to keep evolving.Childproofing a house for a child with ASD is not a “one and done” situation. As children grow and get stronger, you’ll have to come up with creative new ways to keep them safe. When your kids figure out how to get around protective measures, it means they’re exercising their problem-solving skills. The challenge is to stay one step ahead of them.
Anchor everything.If you’ve got a climber, you need to tie down all of the furniture. Use furniture anchors to secure bookshelves, armoires, and dressers to the walls to prevent tipping. Be creative, finding ways to eliminate not only access to high places, but also the temptation to climb. Here’s a hack: if your child drags chairs around to get to desired heights, use Velcro to keep the chairs in place. Screw a two-foot length of Velcro under the table by each chair. Then, when you finish your meal, push the chair in and wrap the Velcro around it. This should be frustrating enough to discourage interest in the chairs.
Prevent eloping.No, not the kind that ends in a Vegas wedding, but the scenario in which your child with ASD runs off from where you left them. Keeping kids with ASD inside can be tricky, so if you have an escape artist, consider installing alarms on your doors. Get creative about locks and other mechanisms for keeping your child indoors. Childproof your home with the usual safety measures, but go a step further, limiting access to unoccupied rooms, attic, basement, and garage.
Watch out for water.Children with ASD tend to be drawn to water. Be vigilant about water sources, using safety devices to keep bathroom doors and toilets locked, and removing sink plugs. If you have a large body of water in the backyard (e.g., pool, hot tub), ensure access doors are always locked.
Use gates inside as well as outside.Baby gates are a parent’s friend, especially when that parent has a child with ASD. They can keep children off stairs, out of kitchens, and from getting into dangerous situations.
Create designated spaces.Sometimes, safety isn’t just about what kids aren’t allowed to do; it’s also about what they’re encouraged to do. Making special spaces for different activities and keeping a consistent routine can help keep your child with ASD calm and safe.