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New Safety Measures to Keep Autistic Children Out of Harm's Way

Posted on Aug 30, 2013

Any parent with an autistic child knows the constant supervision that is required to keep a young one with autism safe from harm. Now, after multiple children have died after wandering away from their homes, new measures are being put in place to prevent these risks from leading to disaster.

The first child’s death that prompted these new safety measures happened in Wareham, Massachusetts, when a three-year old girl vanished from her grandparent’s house. An immediate search began for the little girl, but within an hour searchers found her unresponsive in a nearby pond.

A similar incident in California happened only a month later. This time, the search for a nine-year-old girl suffering from autism lasted for three days after she left from her backyard. A dive team in a muddy creek found the child’s body days after her disappearance.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 88 children is impacted by autism. That equates to over a million children overall in the United States today. Wandering away from parental supervision has resulted in more than 60 children’s deaths over the past four years. This has proven to make parenting of children with autism enormously difficult, requiring the parent to be constantly attentive to an autistic child.

As attorneys for a Massachusetts Social Security disability law firm, we know how this can impact a parent’s life. The family’s need for two parents’ incomes may make it extremely difficult or impossible for one parent to stay at home with an autistic child.

Now, the National Autism Association and several other parenting organizations are providing parents with more tips and systems to keep children safer against this constant threat. Arming windows and doors with alarms is one way to be sure parents are quickly notified if a child wanders away. Other tips include providing a child with an ID bracelet in case a stranger finds the child after who has left the house, and setting up a hand-off system between parents at vulnerable places, such as backyard barbeques. These new safety measures are intended to help parents rest easier away from the fears of this dangerous phenomenon among autistic children.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law