Autism Safety with Outings
Increasing the Safety Factor on Outings
Having three children with Autism, a lot of planning goes into taking the children on outings.
The place has to be appropriate for my children and I also have to weigh up the safety element.
I have to have enough adults to ensure the safety of the children and I tend to choose places that won't cause them distress or over stimulation while providing them with a sense of security and interest.
I like to use bush walks and large parks.
I feel that there is a lot there to keep them interested.
Due in part to the Autism, the children having an intense interest in water, I like to pick places where if there is water, it is not so deep as that they can quickly land in any strife and can be easily retrieved if they jump in and they can have some freedom to run around.
This past weekend I chose the botannical gardens at Manurewa. It is very large. It does have water features, but, the water is shallow enough that it can be waded into if necessary.
It is not overcrowded and noisy which does help to keep the stress levels down for my Autistic children and they were free to run with my other children and their cousins, staying within eye shot.
They had some autonomy which is good for them. We just moseyed about the place, checking out the different gardens.
Having four adults allowed us to stop as necessary with one or more of the children to look at anything a little more in depth without holding up the group.
One of the things that I do to increase the safety factor apart from ensuring enough supervision and vetoing the venue thoroughly first is to ensure that each of my children with Autism is wearing a very bright distinguishable outfit.
As you will see in the photo, John is sporting a brightly coloured, fairly fashionable shirt. (don't want him to feel selfconscious).
The shirt actually stands out in amongst the bush too. It allows me to pick them out among a crowd.
My two boys and my daughter are at risk for wandering off.
But, I like to give them some autonomy. I think that they will develop better if they are given a certain amount of freedom and are not hand held all the time as they have been in the past.
Initially, I tried a brightly coloured hat, but, discovered that once it fell off, they did not usually stop to pick it up.
Incidently, the schools have taken to putting a brightly coloured shirt over the top of their school uniforms prior to them going out for recess as it allows them to quickly locate the children while on the playground.
Even Amongst the Bush He Stands Out
I can honestly say that John had an absolutely fabulous time at the botannical gardens.
He stimmed less while he was there than he does usually. ( less flapping).
And he was inquisitive about the different wildlife and plants.
The gardens are fully fenced with one entryway.
He was able to move fairly freely around the gardens with visual contact and verbal correction as needed.
Nobody watching him would even have known that he had Autism.
The outing was enjoyed by all the family. His enjoyment meant that we were less stressed and it was more of an outing than a policing which is unfortunately what a number of our outings are.
The other members of the family were able to move more freely as well which led to an increased level of enjoyment by them also.
It just takes a little planning ahead and I do believe the right outfit is also a key to taking a child with autism into a public venue.