Personal Safety is a primary concern for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as for those around them, whether family, friends, or the general public.
In New Jersey, Capitol Care integrates safety in its residential care programs. It advises families affected by Autism to incorporate it into their own daily activities to ensure that everyone remains safe. Below are some safety tips that can be used by those providing care to persons with Autism:
Safety in the Community
For those families who care for a member with Autism at home, going out into the community can sometimes be challenging. Behaviors accepted at home may not be generally accepted in public and may bring about unwanted and unanticipated results. Family members are the best advocates to prepare themselves and the individual with Autism for forays into the community. Those that work with the person with Autism, such as school personnel, daycare providers, neighbors, caretakers, and extended family, should gather to discuss possible scenarios and plan appropriate actions. Some resources, such as the Autism Safety Project, will directly address strategies to help individuals with Autism get transportation, ask for help, use public restrooms, interact with Law Enforcement, deal with cellphones and money, play in the neighborhood, and avoid victimization.
Safety in the home
Accidental injury in the home is potential for everyone. The Autism Safety Project offers a workbook and video designed for parents, older teens and young adults called Safe Signals. It focuses on burn and fire safety and incorporates the use of vinyl clings to reinforce safety messages in every room of the house.
The prevalence of sexual abuse and violence among young persons with disabilities is higher than among those without disabilities, making those with ASD an especially vulnerable population. Some expert advice would include:
• Talking about sexuality with family members
• Preventing sexual abuse
• Recognizing the warning signals of sexual abuse
• Getting help for victims
Information for First Responders
Educating family members to respond productively to various events involving those with ASD is the first step. The second step is to educate those who might respond to an incident involving the family. These might include fire fighters, Law Enforcement, 911 call centers, emergency medical personnel, search and rescue personnel, judicial system employees, and teachers and administrators. Working with people with Autism is not necessarily an issue addressed in their professional training so it is a good idea for families to proactively provide training resources for those who might come in contact with the family during an emergency.
For more information about safety suggestions and tips for families of persons with Autism NJ contact, Capitol Care, Inc. would be able to point you towards the best resource.