Trinity Mount Ministries

Showing posts with label Autism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Autism. Show all posts

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Everybody in the Pool: Swimming Lessons for Kids on the Autism Spectrum



It’s a fear many parents with children on the autism spectrum say they live with every day: that their child will bolt out the door at any second and head straight to the nearest body of water, drawn to it as if by some powerful magnetic force.

The behavior is known as wandering, or eloping, and it’s something that parents of nearly half of children with autism say they’ve experienced. Many of these children exhibit a diminished sense of fear, making a beeline to things they’re attracted to that could place them in harm’s way – most often natural bodies of water like ponds, creeks or drainage ditches – but also highways, trains, construction equipment, firetrucks or even roadway signs.

Over a 10-year period, 1,516 children with autism were reported missing to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Of those, 64 children were recovered deceased with drowning the leading cause of death. Sadly, the number is likely much higher because children who wander often reach water before they can be reported missing and their deaths are not distinguished from other accidental drownings. Kids on the autism spectrum are 160 times more likely to die from drowning compared to the general population of children, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

pie graph

NCMEC’s 10-year analysis, from 2011 to 2020, shows causes of accidental deaths after children wander from safe environments.

Parents use all kinds of strategies and technologies to keep their children safe – sensors to detect when a door is opened, enlisting help from neighbors, cameras, special locks, tracking devices. Now that Covid-19 restrictions are lifting, parents have another potential lifeline: swimming lessons.

Before the pandemic, the YMCA was teaching swimming to children with disabilities as part of a pilot program. Now, with pools opening back up, the organization is bolstering its inclusive swimming program, providing instructors with more training and giving them the tools they need to work with children who may be nonverbal or have difficulty communicating.

“As communities across the country reopen, we want to remind everyone that water safety isn’t just fun – it’s essential,” said Lindsay Mondick, director of innovative priorities at Y-USA. “The Y’s classes provide a safe, fun and healthy environment for children with disabilities to learn important water safety skills in a way that can ultimately save their lives if ever faced with an unexpected situation with water.”

Each child on the autism spectrum is unique, so the YMCA has been working with parents to meet their individual needs, Mondick said. Some want private lessons for their children, while others believe their kids would benefit from swimming classes with their peers, she said. 

swimming coach and child

Child is taught swimming lessons at YMCA using visual aids.

The National Autism Association (NAA) has been working with the organization since 2012 and has a list of Y’s that offer inclusive classes on its website, Other organizations, including the Red Cross, offer classes, and the NAA tells parents to Google “swimming lessons and special needs” if they don’t have a Y in their community.

“We recommend swimming lessons as one of the first safeguards parents should get for their children, a pretty critical piece,” said Lori McIIwain, co-founder of the NAA and mother of a son with autism. “It’s one layer.”

Parents interested in swimming lessons with Red Cross-trained instructors should contact their local parks and recreation departments, said Connie Harvey, director of Aquatics Centennial Initiatives. The Red Cross offers lessons at 3,500 aquatic facilities throughout the United States, she said. 

The need for swimming lessons for children on the autism spectrum is growing as the number of children diagnosed with autism continues to grow. Today, one in 54 children in the United States are on the autism spectrum, compared to one in 68 in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

McIIwain said her organization encourages parents to have their children take at least one swimming lesson while wearing their clothes and shoes as would be the case if they wandered to a body of water. The NAA tracks wandering cases and counts about 20 a month, including two to three deaths, often learning about them when a parent calls to report their child drowned after wandering.

When parents say swimming lessons wouldn’t work for their child because he or she doesn’t like water, including taking showers and brushing their teeth, McIIwain says her organization encourages them to get swimming lessons anyway. Children who don’t like water may still be attracted to bodies of water in natural settings, and there are strategies to ease them into swimming lessons, she said.

Mondick says sometimes just teaching these children that they must ask for permission before ever getting in the water can be a lifesaver. The NAA agrees and encourages parents to put water play on a visual schedule for their children so they have a structured routine.

“It’s actually really simple, but it works,” McIIwain said.

For more information, visit: For our next NCMEC autism training class for law enforcement, visit:    




Friday, March 15, 2019

Safety.Com - Keeping Your Child With Autism Safe

A recent study by the American Journal of Public Health examined national mortality data and found that individuals with a diagnosis of autism died on average 35.8 years younger than individuals in the general population. Their research also found that the difference in deaths caused by injury was almost as striking.
Most parents place their children’s safety as a top priority as a rule. But for parents of children with autism, the reality is that it can be even more difficult to keep your children safe from themselves and others simply because of the nature of their disorder. However, parents of children with autism should not live in constant fear: there are tips parents and caregivers of kids with autism can follow to make sure they stay safe.

Characteristics of Autism

autism safety
Image via Autism Society
People with ASDs (autism spectrum disorders) share some symptoms, such as difficulty with social interaction, and their brains process information differently than those of unaffected people. Children with ASDs may exhibit a common set of characteristics that naturally make them more susceptible to danger. For instance, people with ASDs commonly have no real fear of dangers and an apparent insensitivity to pain. An inappropriate response—or no response at all—to sound is another common characteristic that could open the door to danger.
Scientists do not yet know the cause of ASDs. According to the CDC, ASDs occur in people of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. While it is estimated that autism affects 1 in 88 children, boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to be affected by autism; in fact, the number of boys affected by autism is 1 in 54, compared to 1 in 252 girls. And, Autism Speaks points out that the prevalence of autism is not just growing: it is “the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States.”

autism safety
Image via Autism Speaks
Keeping all children safe is important. But, keeping children with autism safe becomes even more of a priority because of their social, communication, and behavioral challenges.

5 Tips for Creating a Safety Plan

Autism Speaks recommends that parents of children with autism create safety plans, and there are some basic tips to keep in mind when creating those plans for your child with autism.
1) Include family and community members who come into daily contact with your child with autism. Keep in mind school personnel, daycare providers, neighbors, extended family, etc. Make sure you have contacted each person and discussed your most pressing concerns about your child’s safety.
2) Think about all of the places in which your child needs to be protected. This probably includes home, school, friends’ homes, community centers, etc. Then, be sure to evaluate them for safety and to put preventative measures into place in each area. It is especially important to remember to include safety skills in your child’s Individual Education Program (IEP) in your school district.
3) Consider the top safety risks for individuals with autism: wandering, pica (the tendency to eat or crave substances other than normal food), drowning, and household toxins. Take the necessary precautions for safeguarding your child against these safety risks and practice safety skills with your child other family members.
4) Give your child a form of identification with contact names and numbers listed. Make sure your child always wears or carries this identification, especially because wandering could be a concern. Or, purchase a child locator and clip it to your child’s shoe, belt, etc.
5) Contact your local communications center, police department, and/or 911 call center to communicate your concerns and safety plan with the appropriate officials. Remember, you are your child’s best safety advocate.

autism health
Image via GDS Infographics

Safety at Home

The home can be a very dangerous place for any young child, but it can be even more dangerous for your child with autism. The difference is that the safety measures and precautions most parents implement for very young children may need to be in place for a much longer period of time for children with autism. Consider this checklist to keep your child with autism safe at home
  • Furniture – Secure especially top-heavy furniture to the wall with furniture brackets or safety straps. Don’t forget that some electronics also may be heavy or easily pulled over by your child, so use items such as TV safety straps.
  • Cleaning products – All cleaning products should be locked in a safe location. You may want to put them in a locked area in the garage or basement, so they are not in the main living space of your home.
  • Freezers – If you own a chest-style freezer, keep it locked at all times. Storing the key in a safe place where your child cannot access it is a good idea.
  • Doors – Key locks may be enough for some children affected by autism, but you may want to use door alarms to prevent your child from leaving your home without your knowledge. Again, remember to keep your keys in a place out of your child’s reach. If your child has been known to wander (see the section on wandering below), you should use a child locator. There are several types available, especially online, but any you choose would help ease your mind about your wandering child.
  • Visitors – As with any child, you should teach your child with autism the safety rules about opening the door to visitors, especially if he is home alone. The old safety rule of not opening the door to anyone when home alone is especially important for an child with autism who has a severe language or speech delay or who is completely nonverbal. One way to communicate this rule to your child with autism is to create a social storybook with pictures to help explain the rules.
  • Hot water – Sometimes children with autism struggle with sensory challenges, so they may be more at risk for getting burned by hot water simply because they cannot feel hot and cold. One simple solution is to turn down the temperature on your hot water heater. If you have an older child with autism, you may want to practice turning on the hot water with the cold water. You may even put stickers on the hot water knob to remind your child that it is a potential danger to him. Don’t forget to do this in the shower as well as on your sink faucets.
Original & Full Article:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kristi's Kids: Lifesaver - Drowning prevention efforts in the autism community

KVOA | | Tucson, Arizona

Written By Edgar Ybarra

TUCSON – This “Drowning Impact Awareness Month,” Kristi’s Kids is drawing special attention to children with autism.  Ninety-one percent of all child autism deaths are from drowning and, this summer, at least 18 of those cases have been reported nationwide.  Children with autism have a notorious attraction to any and all bodies of water.

The Autism Society of Southern Arizona and Firefighters vs. Autism want you to sign up for a special alert, in the event that a child with autism goes missing near you. 
The so-called “Puzzle Alert Safety System,” or P.A.S.S., is similar to an Amber Alert.  Parents pre-register their autistic child and send an alert if that child goes missing.  The alert goes to everyone else in the city who’s also registered. 
It’s important to have a high sign-up rate, to better spread the word.
To register for the “Puzzle Alert,” click here.
To learn more about Firefighters vs. Autism, click here.
To learn more about the Autism Society of Southern AZ, click here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ohio Community will never get over it: 4-Year-Old with Autism Wanders from Home and Drowns


The community of Sheffield Lake, Ohio, will never forget the moment the body of 4-year-old Sidney Heidrick was pulled from Lake Erie. 

"I don't think anyone is going to get over any of this anytime soon," Mayor Dennis Bring tells PEOPLE. 

Bring, a Sheffield Lake resident since 1958 who is in his fourth year as mayor, says he can't even remember the last time a tragedy like this struck his community, which is home to 9,000 people. 

It's a grief made more unimaginable by how unlikely it seemed, even minutes before Sidney's body was recovered. 

On Friday, the barefoot little boy, who had autism, walked away from his grandparents' house on the lake, Bring says. 

He was spotted around 4:30 p.m. by a passerby – but the man who called police must have hesitated between the sighting and dialing, Bring says. Officers responded to the scene within 30 seconds, according to Bring, but Sidney was already gone. 

By Friday evening, "people were coming from all over" to look for Sidney, scouring the woods and vacant properties, Bring says. Thousands eventually joined in, assisting the FBI, Coast Guard and a myriad of regional agencies in the search efforts. 

The search continued into the next day. Bring says he went home at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, and the town's police chief didn't head home until 4 a.m. 

"I fully expected I'd get a call that night," Bring says. He dreamed his phone rang with the news that the had found Sidney. But he awoke to discover the search was still ongoing. 

The community stayed hopeful, Bring says, telling one another Saturday afternoon to keep their fingers crossed, not knowing their search was minutes from ending. 

Sidney's body was found in Lake Erie around 3:30 p.m. He wasn't more than 60 feet from shore – not even a quarter of a mile from his grandparents' home. 

Sidney probably entered the water soon after he went missing, Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans tells PEOPLE, and he died of an apparent drowning. 

Wandering is one of the greatest risks to children who have autism, officials with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tell PEOPLE, and nearly half of children with autism will wander

Being able to find these children is complicated further by the fact that they may hide from other people or head straight for water, says Robert Lowery, vice president of NCMEC's missing children division. 

Higher-functioning children have been known to travel several miles with the help of public transportation. 

Water poses a particular danger. From 2009 to 2011, 91 percent of the deaths of children 14 and younger with autism were due to accidental drowning after wandering, Lowery says, citing the National Autism Association

"It's a very frustrating issue," he says. It's the worst during "wandering season," which runs from early spring to fall, when the weather is warm. 

The ripples of grief from Sidney's death touched many. Bring and other officials were visibly emotional at a Saturday news conference soon after Sidney's body was found. 

One dispatcher was particularly overcome by the news. "I said [to her], 'Some things just happen and there's nothing you can do,' " Bring says. 

The police responded as quickly as they could, but it wasn't enough. 

Bring even broke the news to his 5-year-old granddaughter, who asked him if they had found the missing little boy. 

"It's one of those things that you can't believe," he says. 

Bring says he is grateful for the support of the thousands of searchers who volunteered their time. 

GoFundMe page set up for Sidney's family has raised more than $32,000 so far. 

It's during times like these that you learn "what kind of community you have," Bring says. 

To aid the search for missing children with autism, the NCMEC has developed protocols for first responders and law enforcement and will dispatch advanced teams around the country to support officials trying to locate a child, Lowery says. 

"I just feel terrible for those people," Bring says. "They'll never get over it."


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Study Shows Children With Autism Tend to Stray:

Study Shows Children With Autism Tend to Stray

Brendan Bannon for The New York Times

Patrick Murphy, 14, will sometimes sneak out of the house to pursue his latest interest.

When Patrick Murphy was 6, he became obsessed with vacuum cleaners. The boy, who has autism, used to slip out of his house near Buffalo without telling his parents, running to a nearby appliance store or into strangers’ homes to marvel at vacuum cleaners.

Patrick is now 14, and his parents have double bolts on the doors in their home and brackets on their windows. Still, Patrick — who is now focused on dogs — manages to sneak out. Two weeks ago, he crept from the house after his mother went to bed. When his father came home, he alerted the police. They found Patrick running barefoot in his pajamas at 2 a.m., three miles from his home.
“That was very scary,” said Patrick’s father, Brian Murphy, who has now added an alarm system to the house to keep his son safe. “He has broken through brackets, windows, picked locks, you name it. It’s absolutely the most stressful part of parenting a child with autism.”
The behavior, called wandering or elopement, has led to numerous deaths in autistic children by drowning and in traffic accidents. Now a new study of more than 1,200 families with autistic children suggests wandering is alarmingly common. Nearly half of parents with an autistic child age 4 or older said their children had tried to leave a safe place at least once, the study reported. One in four said their children had disappeared long enough to cause concern. Many parents said their wandering children had narrowly escaped traffic accidents or had been in danger of drowning.
Those at greatest risk of wandering off were autistic children with severe intellectual deficits and those who do not respond to their names. The research was published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
“I knew this was a problem, but I didn’t know just how significant a problem it was until I really began to look into it,” said Dr. Paul A. Law, senior author of the study and director of the Interactive Autism Network, a registry that is a project of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. “This is probably one of the leading causes of death and morbidity for kids with autism.”
Advocates for families affected by autism say the findings underscore the need to raise public awareness and alter policy. While Amber alerts are used to mobilize the public when a child is believed to have been abducted, for instance, generally they are not used when a disabled child goes missing, said Alison Singer, president and a founder of the Autism Science Foundation, one of the organizations that supported the study.
Emergency responders should receive special training on how to search for autistic children who are nonverbal and often scared by lights and sirens, she said. Emergency personnel also need to know to check streams or ponds, since many children with autism are drawn to bodies of water, as well as highways.
One in 88 children in the United States received a diagnosis of autism, Asperger syndrome or a related disorder in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While some of these children are socially awkward but high functioning, others have limited intellectual and cognitive abilities.
“For children who are prone to wander, this is a pervasive problem that affects all aspects of families’ lives,” Dr. Law said. “Many parents just don’t go out in public with their child because they don’t feel safe with them, or they don’t get any sleep at night because the child once escaped through the upstairs window.”
The idea for the new study came from a family coping with autism, and it was financed by several advocacy organizations. Researchers surveyed families who had a child with autism or a related disorder between the ages of 4 and 17.
Most of the respondents came from 1,098 of Interactive Autism Network’s most active participants, 60 percent of whom completed the survey. Families who chose to participate knew the survey was about wandering, and those coping with wandering children may have been more likely to respond, skewing the results, Dr. Law acknowledged.
Over all, 49 percent of families who participated said a child with autism had tried to wander from home, school or another safe place at least once after age 4; the peak age for wandering was 5. Some parents said their child wandered off several times a week or even several times a day.
“This is the first study to quantify the scope of the problem, and it was much larger than we thought,” Ms. Singer said.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Bullying for children with ASD:

The issue of bullying for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) article:

Being the victim of a childhood bully can have a lasting impact, including depression and diminished socioeconomic status, into adulthood. 1,2,3 Many adults who were once victims of bullying vividly recall the feelings of intimidation, the sometimes-daily battering of self-esteem. Many also recall the hands-off attitude that used to be common among teachers, principals, and other adults.

Fortunately, bullying, which was once considered a normal and unavoidable part of the schoolyard landscape, is now viewed as a much more serious matter. (Read More)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The issue of Bullying for Children With Autism:

The issue of bullying for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) article - -- Brett Fletcher (@TrinityMount)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The “Rules of the Game” Books: Autism - Aspergers - ASD Help for Parents!

Who Else Needs Help and Advice With Autism, Aspergers, ASD ?    

"Would you like step-by-step guidance to make talking to

your kids about different situations easier ?"

From: Kerri Stocks
Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.
Dear Fellow Parent,
My son has Autism, and I also have a younger daughter.
He was affected very strongly by his social surroundings, and his emotions overloaded him every minute.
" I developed 4 books to help my children keep their power and self dignity in tact."
Here's what I did to help, and here's what I've got to offer you:

Click Here To Order! 

Here are the 4 "Rules Of The Game" books
Topics covered in Book 1
  • Emotions and Feelings
  • Reflecting
  • Communicate
  • Rules
  • Idioms
  • Responsible
  • You are OK
  • Body Language
  • Different Perspectives
  • Exceptions To The Rules
Topics covered in Book 2
  • Think It - Don't Say It
  • Taking The Blame
  • Me, Me, Me
  • Copying
  • Cheezed Off
  • When They Stare
  • It's Worth A Try
  • Mistakes, Oops
Topics covered in Book 3
  • Unspoken Expectations
  • Words
  • Expectations
  • Respect
  • Choices
  • Opinions
  • Disappointed
  • Pretending
  • Just Pick It Up
Topics covered in Book 4
  • Hurting On The Inside
  • Bullies
  • Just Ask
  • Look At Me
  • Hush
  • When Things Just Suck
  • Remember ... What ?
  • Up words and down words
  • Getting to know me
  • This Is Me mini book
  •'re snowballing
  • Thoughts=Feelings=Responses
  • Re-Think It !
  • Do you feel what I feel ?
  • Teachers Role

Click Here To Order! 

The “Rules of the Game” books allow children to understand their emotions
They learn about the world’s 'social ways' and also allows them to learn
what responsibility they own, and what responsibility does not belong
on their shoulders, and in fact belongs to another person.

These books are very thorough and are not just books that can be read and put away.
They were developed so parents and children can use them daily, flick to whichever topic suits the situation and read through it, then mould it to fit different situations.
They are broken up into different stories, and when used consistently,
allows the child to take the knowledge and utilize it in the every day situations.

Allowing the child to break down situations into different segments (e.g. if someone says something offensive they can think to themselves, “oh that is an opinion and everyone has one, and it does not mean it is the truth”) allows for a sense of control and understanding, and they can then  focus on what is important in their lives, and not waste time in becoming worked up on things they cannot control.

The “Rules of the Game” books were initially developed for my son
and daughter to assist them with their every day experiences.

                                Click Here To Order!