Parenting a child on the autism spectrum is a unique and rewarding journey, but it comes with its own set of challenges. One such challenge that many parents face is the tendency of their autistic children to elope or escape out of the front door.
Elopement can be a terrifying experience for parents, but with the right strategies and tools, you can help keep your child safe. In this blog post, we will discuss how to prevent elopement and introduce you to a helpful product called the GlideLok childproof door lock, which many parents have found useful for their children with autism.
Understanding Elopement in Autistic Children
Elopement, also known as wandering or bolting, refers to the act of an individual leaving a supervised or safe area without permission or without the knowledge of caregivers. This behavior is particularly common among autistic children and can pose serious risks to their safety. Autistic elopement often occurs due to sensory sensitivities, a fascination with certain places or objects, or a desire for independence.
Preventing Elopement: Practical Strategies
1) Communication and understanding: One of the first steps in preventing elopement is to improve communication with your autistic child. Understand their triggers, needs, and interests. By identifying the reasons behind their elopement tendencies, you can work on addressing those specific issues. This may involve therapy, sensory integration techniques, or creating a more accommodating environment at home.
2) Supervision and monitoring: Maintaining constant supervision is crucial for your child's safety. Designate "safe zones" within your home where your child can play without the risk of elopement. Use baby gates, barriers and childproof door locks such as the GlideLok to restrict access to areas that could be dangerous. You can also install security cameras to keep an eye on your child when you're not in the same room.
3) Safety education: Teach your child about safety in a clear and straightforward manner. Use visual aids, social stories, or other communication tools to explain the dangers of leaving the house without supervision. Reinforce the importance of staying in designated areas and seeking help from trusted adults when necessary.
4) Sensory management: Many autistic children elope to escape sensory overload. Create a sensory-friendly environment at home by providing sensory tools, like fidget toys or sensory rooms, where your child can regulate their sensory input. This can reduce the desire to escape as a coping mechanism.
5) Childproof door locks: Install childproof door locks on all your exterior doors. These locks can buy you time, so you can intervene, in the event your child tries to open the front door.
Here's why so many parents of autistic children are happy with the GlideLok:
- Adults can lock and unlock the GlideLok from both sides of the door. For exterior doors, you would still lock your deadbolt as usual, and the GlideLok is your "last line of defense" to prevent your child from escaping even if they have unlocked your deadbolt.
- Your kids can't dismantle the GlideLok because the locking mechanism is completely out of reach, sitting on top of your door.
- Operating the GlideLok is a breeze for adults. Just slide across to lock or unlock.
- It's the only childproofing system of its kind made of durable metal, not cheap plastic, so it will last you for years.
- Installation is a snap. It requires just one screw, included with your order.
- The GlideLok is unobtrusive and blends in with your decor. Most people won't even realize it's there.
- Simply leave the GlideLok disengaged if you don't need it, and your door will stay unlocked. You can then open the door without sliding the GlideLok.
Interested in a GlideLok of your own? Purchase the GlideLok here.
-----------IMPORTANT: The GlideLok must be properly installed to function correctly. This product does not replace supervision of your children or loved ones. If you use the GlideLok, as with any other childproof door lock, you are responsible for getting your loved one to safety in an emergency since they may be unable to open the door. By purchasing this product, you indicate your agreement to hold harmless the manufacturer, brand owner and retailer/seller of the GlideLok for any consequences of its use or misuse. If you do not agree to these terms, please do not use the GlideLok.