If you have an autistic child in your life, you’re no doubt aware of the many dangers that exist and the unique challenges that are related to keeping them safe. As winter begins to settle down, many of us are beginning to prepare for the summer time.
One of the biggest dangers is no doubt water, which is something many autistic children are drawn to. A study completed by the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for approximately 90 percent of total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism ages 14 and younger.
Drowning ranks nationally as one of the leading causes of death for children who are on the autism spectrum, according to data from the National Autism Association.
Rivers, lakes and swimming pools pose particular dangers for autistic children, but fortunately there are several relevant tips available for parents when it comes to water safety.
Reviewing Pool Safety. It’s important to talk to your child about what a swimming pool is and why and how it can be dangerous for them. Stress to children that they should never go near water without an adult present, and to also let you know when they feel like going for a swim.
Installing Fences and Gates. One important safety measure you can take is building a wall around the area where your swimming pool is located, as well as installing a gate that can be easily locked. Consider putting an alarm on the gate as well, so you can be alerted if you child attempts to enter the pool area without you. A San Antonio pool builder quotes by the linear square foot, and also said fences for children especially special needs is a must have.
Swim Lessons. Every child should take swim lessons at a young age, and autistic children are no different. There are specific classes available for children with autism, which you can easily find online via a Google search. Even if your child isn’t that interested in swimming, it’s still important that they learn what to do if they ever fall in the water.
Use Appropriate Gear. Particularly when they’re young and still learning, it’s important that your autistic child uses a life jacket or other type of flotation device when he or she is around water. This will hopefully become a habit for them and keep them safe during visits to the swimming pool, or any other body of water.
Education and Familiarization. Spend some time with your child in and near water, so he or she can learn to be comfortable in this type of surrounding. This is also an ideal time to teach them about the possible dangers of water, as well as establish rules.
Be There and Be Involved. Your child looks to you for support and guidance, so be there as often as you can. Try to be as hands-on as possible around water, and even let them learn how to swim by simply sitting near the pool and watching you. Encourage them and support them in their efforts, as they learn to be comfortable around water.
Swimming and other water-related activities can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to realize that accidents can happen very quickly and autistic children need more time, attention and care than other children their age.
Taking the time to teach your child about water safety will not only keep them safe, but will also allow for a much happier and pleasant summer season.