Thursday, July 10, 2014

Drowning Leading Cause of Death for Children With Autism

As a mom who lives in California, where there is seemingly a pool in every backyard, a key reason we purchased our home was it did not have a pool. I don't have a statistic on wandering compared to non-wandering related drowning’s, either way it’s clear we have to tackle both. My son is a wanderer, actually he's a seeker. He intentionally finds ways to escape our house in search of things he wants, and he has ZERO safety awareness. By zero I mean Nick has the safety awareness of a two year old. The difference is when we see a 2 year old alone we all stop and help. When people see my son alone they just stare.
The good news is I know this about him and I've put systems in place to protect him. My neighbors who have looked up to find Nick in their house UNINVITED, know it too. Their awareness creates a safety net.
If you have a pool I recommend a highly secured pool area, and I've asked my neighbors with pools to lock their gates.  
Articles like this are not new news to parents who have children with autism, it's just confirmation people are listening and getting the word out. 

Drowning Leading Cause of Death for Children With Autism
Researchers at the University of Sciences found that drowning is a major cause of death among children with autism.
Families with autistic children are most concerned about water safety. The study led by Varleisha Gibbs, occupational therapy professor at the University, found that autistic children get overstimulated in crowded areas and escape into unsafe environment.

Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and forms of repetitive or restricted behavior. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reveals that 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is five times more common in boys and costs at least $17,000 more every year to care for a child with ASD.

"Among the plethora of concerns for families dealing with autism, includes addressing water safety practices as early as possible in a child's life," said Dr. Gibbs. "Although water safety is a concern for all parents, children with autism are especially at a higher risk for drowning because they may seek isolation by fleeing to unfamiliar territories."

According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning led to 90 percent of the total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism of age 14 and younger in 2009-2011.  Also, 50 percent of the children with autism try to escape into safe environment which is nearly four times more than children without autism.

Some of the safety tips researchers suggest are: enrolling children in swimming and water safety lessons as early as possible, using video narratives to discuss water safety and if they respond well to visual cues then signs like STOP or DO NOT ENTER on the doors that open to outside must be used.

Following this will help parents to relax and enjoy the summer with their children who are diagnosed with autism.
"Swimming and aquatic therapy is actually a wonderful sport for children with autism because it can address many of their body's sensory and motor needs," said Dr. Gibbs. "By preparing and communicating with your child with autism, family, and friends, summer trips and activities can be much less stressful and more enjoyable."

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