Autistic Children Can Be At Risk of Wandering Off, Water Dangers

By Gretchen Bolander

Published 06/19 2014 11:42AM

Updated 06/19 2014 10:36PM

A recent study by the National Autism Association reports 92% of autistic children are at risk of wandering off, putting them at risk.

Kristy Parker, Clinical Dir. Leffen Center for Autism, said, "Children with autism aren't as sensitive to the social parameters that parents put out about things like stranger danger, or the dangers of, um, things like wasps or bees or water. And so they aren't going to worry about that as much."

In fact, most children are drawn to water but risks are highlighted with an autistic child. Added Parker, "Maybe have not had that experience of, um, how to be safe in water. Maybe they haven't been able to participate in group swimming lessons because the communication barrier exists for them. Or maybe their parents often keep them very, very close in , um, ife jackets or other safety equipment and they don't have the opportunity to see what it's like for their head to go under the water."

So the experts recommend taking steps to teach an autistic child to be safe, like simple swimming lessons. "The basics of when you start to go under how to tread water, how to blow bubbles in the water so that you don't take in water, that you're pushing the water out. That whenever you go into water that's deep to wear some sort of safety device. A child that is used to a routine like that is more likly to follow that rule." And identify potential water risks in your neighborhood like pools and ponds.

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