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Unlike your home, the outside world is large and often unpredictable. For parents and caregivers, ensuring a child’s safety when you’re out in public is of the utmost importance. This is especially true for children with special needs such as autism. 

Special Needs Child Safety Tips When You’re Out in Public 

Whether you’re at the mall, the grocery store, or a park, keeping them safe in a public area can be a challenge, but there are steps you can take to have peace of mind. Autistic children may have difficulty understanding and navigating social situations and are at greater risk of wandering or getting lost. Here are some child safety tips to keep in mind when you’re out in public with an autistic child.

Create a Social Story

Autistic children may benefit from a social story, a visual guide that explains what to expect in a particular situation. This can help prepare your child for a trip to the mall, for example, and reduce anxiety.

Wear Identification

Ensure your child wears identification, such as a bracelet or necklace with their name and contact information. This can be especially important if your child tends to wander.

Prevent Injury

Preventing child injury in public places is crucial for parents and caregivers. Public places such as parks, playgrounds, malls, and other crowded areas can present a variety of hazards for children. The most crucial step in preventing child injury is supervising your child and being aware of your surroundings. According to Sommers Schwartz, a Detroit personal injury lawyer, “when you’re out in public with children, remember to see hazards from their perspective. What might seem perfectly safe for you seem that way because of your height. Some of the most innocuous-looking things can hurt a curious child, so it’s important to be aware of that.”

Additionally, using appropriate safety gear, teaching your child about safety, keeping emergency contact information on hand, using child safety gates, knowing basic first aid, and being aware of specific hazards of the place can also help prevent child injury. Always keep a close eye on your child and intervene if they’re at risk of injury. Parents and caregivers should also be prepared for emergencies and have a plan in case of injuries.

Following these child safety tips can help keep your autistic child safe in public areas

Teach Your Child to Ask for Help

Teach your child to ask for help if they feel lost or scared and to look for a police officer, security guard, or other trusted adult if they need assistance. This is a great way to add an extra layer of peace of mind, knowing that there are public safety resources to support you and your child when you’re not at home. 

Have a Plan in Case of Wandering

If your child tends to wander, make sure you have a plan in place in case they get lost. This could include a prearranged meeting place or a code word that you can use to quickly and safely reunite.

Use a Child Locator Device

Some child locator devices use GPS technology to track a child’s location, while others use a radio frequency signal. Consider using one of these devices to keep track of your child’s whereabouts.

Be Aware of Sensory Issues

Autistic children may be sensitive to certain stimuli, such as loud noises or bright lights. Be aware of these issues and avoid environments that may be overstimulating for your child.

Following these child safety tips can help keep your autistic child safe in public areas

Communicate With Others

Let management know if you plan to take your child to a public place. This will help them prepare and understand your child’s needs.

Have a communication device

Technology can help an autistic child at home and also out in public. Some autistic children may have difficulty communicating verbally, so consider having a communication device such as a picture communication board or a tablet with a communication app designed for autistic children.

Special Needs Child Safety Tips

Being out in public with special needs presents many challenges for parents, but these can be mitigated in many ways. Following these child safety tips can help keep your autistic child safe in public areas. Remember that the most important thing you can do is be prepared, plan, and be aware of your child’s needs and tendencies. With a bit of preparation and vigilance, you can help ensure your child’s safety and peace of mind when you’re out in public. You can make your time outside of the house enjoyable for you and your child. 

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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