Contribution from freelance writer Lucy Wyndham
Every once in a while, the Leka Team is happy to welcome external contributors and share their food for thoughts. This post has been written by Lucy Wyndham whose husband is on the spectrum.
For parents of children with autism, ensuring that kids don't wander away from their designated caregiver is a real challenge. While each experience can differ from individual to individual, one study discovered that 49% of children with autism have been found wandering from time to time. And as Business Wire reports, 43% of parents say they've found themselves unable to sleep over concerns that their autistic child will roam during the nighttime hours – so it has an effect on families too.
Whether it’s as a response to problems with their sensory skills or simply a desire to discover more, it’s understandable. However, there are some dangers associated with it – and without harnessing the best of modern technology to keep an eye on a child, difficulties can quickly arise. Here, then, are some top tips on how to make the most of smart tech to help children stay safe.
Installation of cameras
The most obvious tech-focused solution to the issue of children going out of sight, of course, is to use equipment to bring them back into sight – and this is something a smart camera system can do. With live feeds of each room in the home able to be accessed from a smartphone app or other device, finding a child who is AWOL is simple. Some parents may have privacy concerns here – but as long as the camera and software provider you use is reputable, it’s usually safe to set up such a system.
Sensors in important areas
Of course, cameras can’t be watched all the time, and sometimes a child on the autism spectrum can run into difficulty even if cameras are in place. That’s where new in-home technology tools can really come into their own. Adding sensors to places that can pose danger is a smart move, as they can alert caregivers when a wandering child is in a danger zone unsupervised. One such place might be the bath, for example, or a room of the house containing potentially dangerous items like power tools or chemical-based products.
Doors – and new arrivals
By installing a sensor on the door, you can get an alert right away whenever someone opens or closes it – so you’ll be able to know straight off if a child is leaving the house.But a door sensor can also help prevent one of the causes of wandering in the first place. A sudden change in circumstances can cause an autistic child to experience distress, and the arrival of a visitor is one such scenario. As a result, sensors which alert when a visitor’s car pulls up can give a child some time to process the information rather than being triggered by the doorbell.
Parenting a child who experiences autism can be a tough task on occasion, and the risk of wandering is simply another thing for parents to worry about. But as with so many things, modern technology makes it much easier to handle. From helping to prevent children from accessing areas which might put them in danger to ensuring that home entrances and exits are properly managed, there are plenty of ways to use technology to protect your ASD loved ones.