Those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer are here! The start of summer vacation brings visions of lounging by the pool, roasting marshmallows by a campfire, and enjoying a spectacular fireworks display to mind. The summer is also time to become aware of the many safety hazards related to children on the Autism Spectrum. In this entry, we will touch upon some of the major issues related to safety and Autism, and how our Summer Social Skills Immersion Program works to prevent them from occurring!

Wandering

1002152_637873102891008_10787285_nWandering is one of the most crucial safety issues for children on the Autism Spectrum. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that nearly half of all children with Autism Spectrum Disorders will wander from safe environments, and 33 percent of those that do are nonverbal. They will wander towards things that, while interesting, can pose a danger to them; such as bodies of water or busy streets. The AWAARE Collaboration notes that wandering increases during the warmer months, when routines are changed to adapt to the weather.

In conjunction with the AWAARE Collaboration, the National Autism Association, and Autism Speaks, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has created an awareness campaign called “Stop, Seek, and Stay”. Watch the video below to learn more about it!

At our Summer Social Skills Immersion Program, we take wandering very seriously. When our campers are out in the community, they are required to wear yellow rubber bracelets with our contact information clearly displayed upon them. These bracelets are both fashionable and practical, so our campers love them!

Water Safety

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Swimming is often a favorite activity for children on the Autism Spectrum. However, it can also be dangerous! According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for 91% of total deaths in children ages 14 and younger with Autism from 2009 to 2011, subsequent to wandering.

At our Summer Social Skills Immersion Program, swimming is offered at least once a week. There is always a trained lifeguard monitoring
the pool, and many of our staff will be in the pool supervising our campers. Campers are divided into two swimming groups in order to control the number of children in the pool at one time. Those who have difficulty swimming are equipped with life jackets, and many are assigned a staff member to monitor them at all times. Additionally, all staff members are CPR and First Aid certified!

Sensory 

545733_649623261715992_1123609932_nIn the summer, children are exposed to many sensory experiences. From the bright sun to the tickle of the grass, it can often be overwhelming! Lindsey Biel at The Autism File wrote a great article on handling summer’s sticky sensory issues, and many of her suggestions are incorporated into our Summer Social Skills Immersion Program! We always require our campers to wear sunscreen; they put it on at the beginning of the day and during swimming breaks. Water is provided during our daily activities, and everyone looks forward to our afternoon popsicle breaks! There are also plenty of outdoor and indoor activities for our campers to choose from. For those who have sensory issues related to heat, we provide alternate environments to meet their needs!

Our Summer Social Skills Immersion Program begins July 7. Keep an eye on our blog to see what our campers are up to!