In a prior posting I talked about bolting and outside safety. When a stereotypical child starts to approach their terrible 2’s, it’s time to start building the safety boundaries in the house. Common problems that can come about include, falls, burns and scalds, drowning, poisoning, strangulation and suffocation. Obviously severe injury or death are not the only worries, destruction of items is a key problem as well. These are concerns with all children but with supervision and redirection, typical children can be taught safety. The concerns can be addressed much earlier than a child on the Autism spectrum and modifications to the house are not needed for such prolonged periods.
A child on the Spectrum does not generally understand safety, so curiosity will take over. The older they get the faster, stronger, and smarter they are. Majority of caregivers and parents consider safety of their child to be one of the more significant concerns. I couldn’t agree with them more.
Here is a short list of things a child on the Spectrum may engage in: Climbing on tall objects, throwing utensils, putting items in outlets, appliances, toilets, sinks, dumping things, turning on hot water (unaware), crawling into washer and dryers, touching burners, climbing on the roof, throwing phones or ipads, and of course escaping the house and disappearing. Many of these things my daughter herself has participated in.
You may recall the time I spoke of my daughter at 2 1/2 disappearing from site. We where renting a house along the ocean and the front door was open. That was one of the scariest moments by far but unfortunately not the last scary one. When she was 5 years old we went to the JCPennys to go shoe shopping. My older daughter Ali was with me at the time, so I asked her to keep an eye on her.
Unfortunately she took her eyes off for one second, no fault to her. However, that is when Brooklyn disappeared from our view yet again. The shoe racks blocked our vision of her route, this is probably the worst area to lose a child.
After looking for a few minutes panic mode set in and tears started to appear. I approached the cashier and pleaded for help. She quickly called the supervisor and they put in an emergency request to shut down the building and lock the doors. I was happy and surprised to hear that this was an option. They spoke over the speaker requesting staff to watch for a 5 year old girl with blond hair. We started walking the store in search as well. About 10 minutes later 2 staff women started walking our way with Brooklyn in hand. Brooklyn was smiling and holding 2 mini Donald duck stuffed animals. She appeared to be happy as can be and unaware of the situation on hand.
I talked with the staff about her location and they directed me to a giant, tall rack of Disney stuffed animals. As soon as I saw it I understood why she was gone so quickly. When a child on the spectrum see’s something that intrigues them, then they are typically going to quickly make route to it. Everything else around them seems to disappear, including their parents voice calling for them.
After my lost child in the department store I decided it was time to start researching different options for additional safety in and out of the home. The above video is to reference to safety with the windows and doors. Brooklyn loves to be outside, rain or shine, hot or cold. One day I jumped into the shower thinking a quick 5 minute in and out would be safe. I locked her in my bedroom with the Autism portable safety lock and thought nothing of it. When I returned she had managed to unlock the window and was standing on the roof. My roof is super steep and narrow and the thought of her falling was terrifying. That day, after I safely got her back inside, Brooklyn and I routed to the hardware store and found window locks for both upper and lower floors. Something I should have done as soon as I had moved in, lesson learned……
Below you will see some examples of options I suggest to use in your home. Many of the items are a little more expensive, but heavy duty. This is important because as they get older, they get strong and can rip locks off like nothing. I promise these finds are worth the money and time
Door Knob Lock With Key -The only risk I would consider with these locks is that an older child typically learns quickly by watching how to operate a lock with a key. Plus, you could easily lose the key.
Top Door Slide lock -These locks are currently on all my upper bedroom doors. When she was younger it took her time to move things and crawl up and slide open these latches. Now that she is older she now moves much quicker and I need to re-access my options. Most likely they will be replaced by this next item. Click the Link to view.
Keyed Chain Door Lock – The Chain door lock is used often for extra safety from the exterior but they come in handy for the locking your child in as well. Click the link to view the lock.
The Best Portable Door Lock -This is the best option for the lower cost door locks. I have one for my garage door and back door. They are a little more complicated and take a strong hand to push and open. At age 9 my daughter is still unable to and has given up trying to figure out how to use it. I suggest you buy a few. They are amazing!!
Dual Sided Key less Security Door Lock -This item is a sheer necessity due to Brooklyn escaping the front door many times. My memory and worry of not locking it for safety is the biggest reason. The lock below has a dual side combo and requires a 4 digit code and 2 hands to open. Installing it and the cost of purchase was not my favorite but it has saved the day and worth the money and effort.
Magnetic Lock -As the child gets older they get even stronger. I used the simple cabinet door locks on the kitchen and bathroom cabinets but she started to simply rip it open. I purchased this, little more expensive cabinet lock. It holds tight and is a little harder for her to figure out. It comes in handy I promise.
The next thing to consider is how to keep an eye on then when you are in another room. Obviously you could invest in expensive wireless cameras and pay a monthly fee to access them, or you can go with a cheaper option. I currently have 4 cameras set up in the house. They are located in key areas, living room, kitchen, office, stairs, and her bedroom.
We all need to be able to go shower and not worry! I think you all agree. The problem is that before cameras I would go upstairs for 5 minutes and walk back down to a big surprise. One being a huge puddle of dish soap on the kitchen floor. I’m talking a 2 feet circle, it took about 2 hours to clean up. Including majority of that time outside hosing off the kitchen rugs. So get some cameras now! Below is the cameras I currently have installed at my house. The App allows you to pull up the cameras, watch and listen without concerns.
In conclusion, I would like to say, that it does get easier. Our dumps of soap, escapes from the house, and times on the roof have decreased. Of course her age and curiosity has helped but, this mother turning the cameras on and locking the doors has de-stressed me quite a bit. I can worry just a hair less. So, if you are still reading this, then get started, we got this!!