June 26, 2017
This article is an excerpt from OAR’s “Understanding Autism: Professional Development Curriculum.” For students with...
No parental instinct is as intense and fundamental as keeping one’s child safe. Autism presents its own set of vulnerabilities that can make safety even more challenging to handle. Parents with children newly diagnosed with autism may suddenly be faced with overwhelming responsibilities and emotions as they try to develop effective safety plans, especially without access to the smart tools they need to begin. To address this ongoing need, we developed two resources: A Guide to Safety and the Think Safety website.
Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide to Safety outlines major safety risks of concern throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood for individuals with autism, and offers tips, resources, and strategies to assist parents. This comprehensive tool can be used as a reference for addressing basic safety skills, developing preventative safety measures, and getting a sense of what types of safety concerns can be expected later on in life.
A Guide to Safety not only gives parents comfort in knowing they are not alone, but also offers practical and age-appropriate guidance on life-threatening issues that their children with autism are likely to experience.
With that in mind, the resource covers a range of safety topics, including: wandering and elopement, physical and sexual safety, bullying, internet safety, and money safety. It also includes appendices that contain useful tools and information, such as: sample identification documents, advice from an adult self-advocate, and evidence-based safety skills lessons.
This resource, which was written in collaboration with parents, first responders, and professionals in the autism community, can be used independently or as a supplement to a more comprehensive, pre-established family safety plan. While the guide was written with parents in mind, it can also be used as an aid for first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, etc.) to reinforce their current autism safety plans.
Think Safety is the next step toward supporting the autism community’s safety needs and empowering those in the community with evidence-based autism resources. Thanks to the generous help of the JP Morgan Chase Force for Good team, Think Safety promises to be a resource that will address this ongoing need.
Think Safety is organized around a series of message boards accessible for any visitor to the site. The message boards are divided based on age: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, similar to the sequence of A Guide to Safety. There are spaces for users to discuss specific topics in smaller groups, including wandering and elopement, crisis planning and prevention, bullying, and workplace safety. The forums are visible to all, but to share ideas and participate, one must create a Think Safety user account.
The website also contains a direct messaging feature, which allow users to have private conversations. Along with the message boards, Think Safety offers the same guidance, advice, and information contained in Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide to Safety, as well as the option to request a hard copy guide. Along with those resources, the website also features autism safety videos, worksheets, and other external safety resources. We strive to update and maintain Think Safety with the latest in autism safety information.
June 16, 2017
MIAMI — Arnaldo Rios, a 27-year-old with severe autism and an IQ of 40, sat...