Water safety is a major focus for this safety blog. However, today let’s focus on an at-risk group that isn’t often addressed. Drowning danger for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a serious concern. According to research from the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for approximately 90% of the total deaths reported in autistic children aged 14 and younger. This research was done between the years of in 2009 to 2011, but remains a serious issue today.
Specific Drowning Danger for Children with Autism Spectrum DisorderWhile it is crucial for all children to be carefully watched near the water, drowning danger for children with autism is a specific concern. You see, kids with ASD are typically at a much higher risk of drowning than other children. A new study analyzed millions of child deaths across the nation. Of these, the researchers discovered that kids with ASD were 160 times more likely to die from drowning compared with the general pediatric population. Now, there are several reasons for this. For one, the research showed that many children with ASD were quite prone to accidental injury in general. Second, in many situations, kids with ASD often like to wander off. This is referred to as “eloping.” Basically, the child either runs or quietly slips away from a safely controlled environment. Now, of course nearly all children have been known to wander off from time to time. But when it comes to drowning danger for children with autism, this practice can be quite a bit more frequent. In fact, nearly half of kids with ASD elope at a rate four times higher than other children. Beyond this, kids with ASD tend to be drawn to water. That is obviously quite dangerous. Drowning is often quick and can happen right under a parent or guardian’s nose.
Help Keep Children with ASD Safe Around Pools or Hot TubsThe absolute first rule that any parent or guardian should take into account when a child is missing is where to search. In fact, the very first place to check should be any nearby body of water. As hazardous as other places can be, drowning happens much more quickly than most people realize. In case a child goes missing, check the water first! This precaution could buy precious seconds and save a little one’s life. That’s true for all kids, but drowning danger for children with autism can also use a few more safety precautions. Here are just a few potentially life-saving home safety tips:
- Swimming lessons save lives. In this case, look for a swim instructor that specializes in ASD swimming lessons.
- Provide direction and discuss pool area ground rules each and every time your little one will be by the water.
- Make and post helpful signs that say “STOP!” at all of the exits in your home. These signs can provide important last-minute reminders to a potential eloper.
- As always, practicing undistracted active supervision can prevent a child’s wandering or elopement.
- Install multiple layers of protection, including adding high locks to all doors and windows that lead out to the water.
- Install a high and sturdy mesh pool fence with a self-latching, self closing pool gate.