Increased Anxiety Can Lead to an Increase in Wandering - How to Keep Your Child Safe
An issue that many parents face is wandering, affecting just over 30% of kids with anxiety issues and around half of all children with autism. Recent studies on autism and wandering have found that stress, transition, boredom, agitation, and confusion are all linked to an increase in wandering incidents. Therefore, with unexpected changes in routine and other circumstances right now that may lead to your child becoming anxious, it’s more important than ever to help them stay calm and to take extra steps to keep your child safe.
What is Wandering?
The term itself may not sound so bad, but the reality of it and the seriousness of a child leaving a safe place is all too real. When a child wanders, they quickly and quietly get out of the home or yard and take off before anyone notices. When they are set on leaving a situation or getting somewhere they want to go, they can very creatively find ways to make it happen.
A study conducted by the National Autism Association suggests that most wandering incidents happen from home and while with a parent. In over half of the cases the child was found in a dangerous situation with a third needing medical attention or worse. This is why, especially now, we want to share some tips to keep your child safe and ensure that they can’t escape and wander off during an extended home stay.
Keeping Your Child Safe from Wandering
There are several things a parent can do to prevent wandering and decrease the amount of time it takes to find a child who wanders. Here are some tips to keep your child safe:
Keep your child calm. Ease the transition to staying home by providing structure and sticking to a routine. Add calming activities to the schedule.
Keep active. Physical and mental activity can help to alleviate restlessness and boredom. If you have therapy exercises you can do at home, make sure to dedicate time each day to practicing and learning new skills.
Be patient and flexible. Trying to force your child to do something or getting upset will only cause more stress for you and them. It’s a difficult time for everyone so take a deep breath and let go as much as possible.
Talk to your child. Make sure to check in with them and ask how they are feeling. Using stories is a great way to help them express their emotions.
Stay alert. It’s easy to let our guard down at home and get distracted, especially if you are balancing working from home, tending to your other children, and cooking and cleaning.
Take care of yourself. You’re faced with a challenging time of increased stress. It’s so important to make time to do something that recharges your batteries.
Meditation, reading, painting, writing, listening to music, exercise, yoga, anything that helps you feel better.
Prepare your home. Make sure you have locks on doors, windows, and gates. Walk the perimeter of your yard to check for any holes or areas where your child could squeeze through or climb over. Door alarms are highly recommended as well.
Teach safety skills. There are several ways to help teach your child to stay indoors. One example is to put tape on the floor in front of the door and practice having your child stop and turn around when they get to the tape. Asking to go outside and responding to stop or other safety commands are some more things you can practice.
Use a safety device. Having a safety device like the AngelSense GPS Tracker for Autism on your child will immediately alert you if they wander and help you find them as quickly as possible.
Even with the best safety measures in place, accidents still happen. If you have a child who is prone to wandering, provides the maximum level of protection to keep them as safe as possible. Get peace of mind knowing exactly where your child is at all times. Additional safety features include: 2-way assistive speakerphone, remote activated alarm, first responder alerts, safe ride monitoring, and more.
Looking for gifts for an autistic child? See our gift guide here.