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Safety tips for enjoying summer events with your child with autism

Summer fairs, festivals and amusement parks are a right of passage for many children. Here are some safety tips to help your family enjoy the many opportunities available during the summer months.

Children wander or run away for various reasons. Some children may find the crowds and noise upsetting and want to get away: 
– Try and prime your child ahead of time. Show them an online video of a fair or festival and see how he/she reacts. 
– Try to plan your visit during quieter times (i.e., check the itinerary to see where the action is and avoid it).  
– Be sensitive to your child’s cues or precursor behaviours. Your child may begin to plug his or her ears or become louder with his or her vocalizations. This might be signs that he or she is ready to leave. 

Some children may see something they like and leave an area to explore something exciting:
– You know your child best. Use your expertise and try and anticipate the kinds of things that may affect your child’s behaviour.  If you think the fair might have bright lights, exciting toys and yummy treats, bring along new or favourite items to compete with the urge to run to something. You are less likely to run to the ice cream truck if you already have an ice cream in hand.
– For children who like music, you may want to try headphones with the parent holding the Mp3 player. This way when the child goes too far, the music stops playing and tells them they need to stay closer.

Having a plan before you get to the event can help too. As you are passing some of these enticing and exciting parts of the event, plan on how you would react if your child left.
– Does your child know his or her full name and number?
– If your child does not speak is there identifying information on them (e.g., identification bracelet).
– Are there enough adults present to watch any other children should you need to leave?
– Is your child wearing something that is easy to spot in crowds? 

Enjoying the outdoors with the whole family is a wonderful way to bond and create lasting memories. By creating a plan of action, your family will be able to experience everything summer has to offer. The best thing about living here is that you can practice practice practice with a number of fairs and festivals taking place each weekend. If the first experience is not so great, brush it off, and try try again!

Kristin Gunby
Clinical Supervisor

Our aim is to keep you and your family informed.
Our aim is to keep you and your family informed.