Homes can be dangerous for any child. Sharp objects, electrical outlets, open stoves, and physical challenges can prove to be hazardous. This risk becomes exacerbated when it involves children with special needs. Whether it’s a physical disability, such as a wheelchair, or a neurological disability, such as Autism, you should consider the risks your home poses. These home safety tips for kids with special needs will help protect your loved ones from harm.
Safe-Proof Sharp/Dangerous Objects
You should safe-proof all knives, sharp corners, open electrical outlets, and other dangerous items. While certain disabilities affect children differently, all these items pose danger and harm. Use safety electrical outlet covers to prevent electrocution. Also, keep knives in a special, locked drawer or out of reach. You can store other sharp objects, such as scissors, peelers, graters, or corkscrews, where they’re hard to access. Another important safety tip is to keep cords shortened to prevent your child from accidentally choking themselves.
Hang Items Out of Reach
Whether they’re important family heirlooms, expensive china, or you just want to make more physical space, hang items out of your child’s reach. Some important items to hang out of reach include electronics, pictures, or tablets. It’s important to keep these away to protect your child and your belongings. You could also install floating shelves for extra storage space. For example, store healthcare equipment on these shelves to make for extra space around your home.
Be Aware of Triggers
Some children on the Autism spectrum have triggers that will set them off; new situations can startle a child or upset them. A meltdown is an intense response to an overwhelming situation. It can result in verbal (shouting, screaming, crying) or physical (kicking, biting, fighting) behaviors. These are not temper tantrums, which are often cries for attention or a desired response (for example, getting a new toy or dessert). Meltdowns, on the other hand, are involuntary responses. Children on the autistic spectrum do not understand how to appropriately express their feelings. As such, it’s important to be aware of physical, visual, or auditory stimuli that can trigger these responses.
Inform Neighbors, Caregivers, and First Responders
One of the most essential safety tips to be aware of as a parent is to inform others of your situation. Inform neighbors, caregivers, and first responders of your child’s disability, their needs, and what to watch out for. This way, if you’re out of the house and something happens, everyone will know how to manage different situations. It is also important to inform first responders of your child’s condition. Call your local fire department and police station and explain your child’s actions and behaviors. In case something happens where you need first responders, they will know how to appropriately handle your children. Additionally, be sure to inform your children of the noises and lights from sirens and emergency vehicles as these can be potential triggers.