Summer days are what most kids look forward to during the school year, but for parents, warmer months can come with a new set of challenges. For families that include children on the autism spectrum, it can be difficult to maintain a schedule that makes them feel at ease, and having the kids home all day means making sure the house is completely safe.
There’s a lot to think about, but with some careful planning and communication within the family, you can make sure everything is ready for summer break and give yourself some peace of mind, as well. Here are some of the best tips for getting your home prepared.
Swimming pools, bathtubs, and even sprinklers can be a hazard in homes with young children, and for children who fall on the autism spectrum, water can be dangerous because of its attraction. If you have a pool of any size on your property, make sure it’s covered or drained after every use and that gates are closed and locked securely. Consider installing a hook-and-eye lock well out of your child’s reach on fence gates if your neighbor has a swimming pool. Always drain bathtubs immediately after use and never leave sprinklers or other water activities laying out.
If your child tends to wander, consider installing motion sensor alarms on doors and windows or acquiring a GPS locator for your child to wear. Keep all entrances and exits locked and secure and talk to family members and caregivers about the importance of making sure they stay locked at all times. Have a conversation with your neighbors about your child’s tendency to wander so they’ll know what to do if they see him or her outside alone; give them emergency numbers to contact, as well.
Ensure that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries and are in good working order. Teach your child about the importance of knowing the difference between the alarm sounds and what to do when they hear them, especially if loud noises cause stress or anxiety. Go over an evacuation plan with the entire family and set a meeting place outside of the house for everyone to congregate to in case of fire or other emergencies.
Summertime is great for swimming and outdoor activities, but it can also include some inclement weather for most states. Depending on where you live, you may be at risk for hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and severe storms that leave your home vulnerable. It’s a good idea to secure windows and screens in the summertime and put aside flashlights, candles, matches, batteries, bottled water, ponchos, and possibly a manual can-opener and battery-operated hot plate in case you lose power for several hours or days.
Go over an emergency weather plan with the family and make sure everyone knows what to do in case of inclement weather. Because storm patterns don’t follow specific timelines, it’s important to make sure your smartphone is equipped with alerts that will let you know when to take shelter should a storm arrive in the middle of the night. Be careful about getting adequate rest; if storms keep you or your child awake at night, try to set naptimes during the day.
Since your kids will be home more often in the summertime, it’s important to teach or reiterate the rules for answering the phone or opening doors. Make sure they know the difference between strangers and acquaintances–like neighbors–and talk to them about what to do if they are approached by someone they don’t know.
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.
All opinions and recommendations in this article are the authors own, and are not to be considered to be the opinions and recommendations of The Autism Society. Any products or services mentioned are not endorsed by The Autism Society. No advice provided here should be taken as professional medical advice.