By Lisa Ackerman
For many families summer is filled with fun activities, vacations and almost always involves WATER! This sounds fun. And it is fun! I have fond memories of summer time shenanigans with my family and friends.
For families living with autism the summer season can be the exact opposite of fun. It can become a giant nightmare. Services and routines are turned upside down. Children with autism can get frustrated without the structure and support school time provides.
Sadly some individuals with autism wander from safe environments. This often occurs during the summer months. Many children living with autism can have the cognitive functioning of a toddler but have the size of a child that should certainly know better. But they don’t, they have autism.
The statistics are sobering, 49% of the kids with autism wander (1) and sometimes with deadly consequences. Forty (40%) of those with autism cannot speak which can make finding them even more difficult. Many are often scared of bright lights, sounds and any commotion around them. They are afraid of the sounds and people there to help them.
Sadly, we know when summer is coming the stories in the news increase. We know from the type of news stories we start hearing about. In a short five weeks, 10 children with autism have wandered and unfortunately died from drowning (2.) 10 children have died in 5 weeks.
I have written about this before (3.) The names and faces of these beautiful kids are burned into my head. I am so heartbroken for their families.
We encourage families to try their very best to keep kids busy during the summer months. Provide them with a detailed schedule of activities. If you are going to the pool or lake, make sure there is continuous supervision provided by more than one person who is familiar with your child.
Here are some other ideas to help:
Ideas to keep kids with autism busy during summer: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/during-summer-months/
Teen Ideas: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/teens-with-asd-extracurricular-activities/
Our incredible friends at the National Autism Association have done a wonderful job of providing families very useful information to hopefully keep their kids with autism safe at all times. They offer a great tool kit to help families (4.)
In the news, we have seen an average of 3 children with autism wander each month. That number tends to run higher May thru October. What about the ones that don’t make the news? The close calls? Losing a beautiful child is a tragic outcome no one should have to experience. Families living with autism worry about this daily.
I hope you now understand why we fight so hard for our kids. We like kids. No, we love these kids. We fight for therapy, medical intervention and understanding because if they get away from us just for one second, tragedy can ensue. We work hard hoping that someday our kids will understand safety and not need to be closely guarded. Our communities must understand we are loving parents living under extraordinary circumstances. It takes a village to protect some of these children. They shouldn’t face such tragic circumstances. They deserve to reach their full potential.
(Please share this blog with other families living with autism. It could save a life.)
- Big Red Safety Box from National Autism Association: www.autismsafety.org
This is truly a fear for us. A family at my son’s school just lost their son last week from drowning. They took every precaution by gating off the pool. The little boys still found a way in. Very tragic.