If you have a child with autism, you are no doubt familiar with the fear that your child will make a run for it once your back is turned. Well, you are not alone. A 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics found that the tendency for autistic children to wander was common, with nearly half of all autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) children engaging in this "elopement behaviour". This tendency to run can be a source of great stress on families who just want to keep their child safe. Read on for some ideas on how to keep your child safe and free from harm.
Build a fence
Many autistic children like to be outdoors playing and don't like to be confined to the indoors for very long. If this sounds like your child, it also means, of course, that there is a greater likelihood of him of her making a run for it. If you don't already have a fence in your yard, it's worth building one, and building it high. Relying on a gate alone can be too stressful. If you already have a relatively low fence and aren't able to replace it, consider putting a thick layer of petroleum jelly along the top, making sure you top it up frequently. This will make it impossible for even the most able of escape artists to do a runner.
Keep the house under lock and key
Don't rely on deadbolt doors with a switch to keep your child safe -- once your child is tall enough, he or she will be able to easily open the door. Instead, consider switching to locks with keys on any doors that lead outside. Make them master keyed so that you can open them all with one house key, then keep the key well away from your child!
Use a baby monitor
So that you can relax at night once your child has gone to bed and not have to worry about him or her heading for the front door, consider using a video baby monitor so that you can keep a close eye on any activity and cut down on your stress. Mount the camera high in the corner of the bedroom so that you can see the entire room and, therefore, everything that is going on.
Make your child identifiable
If your child does manage to break out, you should feel more secure knowing that your contact details are right there on your child – that way, he or she can be safely returned home to you. An identification tag or bracelet complete with your contact details and an ASD identifier will mean that the person who finds your child will be able to reunite you.