The National Autism Association has created a new website for their Autism Safety Initiative which provides resources to address Bullying, Wandering, Restraint and Seclusion, and Suicide Prevention in the Autism Community.
In the last month, there have been numerous incidents of children, teenagers and adults with autism wandering from their homes.
On Autism Central alone, we have reported two such incidents; one in Connecticut and one in Virginia. An increasing concern is being raised over this very dangerous situation too many autistics find themselves in. The NAA, in a partnership with five other organizations all dedicated to autism research, funding, and education, discusses wandering at www.awaare.org. Autism Wandering is one of the highest causes of death among people with autism. There are many reasons one with autism might wander usually including something of interest that they want to see again or find. Wandering can also be the person’s way of escaping an otherwise anxiety producing situation such as an unfamiliar home or a loud party with many people.
A contributing factor to the higher rates of death among children with autism is the practice of restraining a child. Alarmingly enough, an investigation in 2009 showed that, although there is a law that protects children from abuse in hospitals, group homes, etc., no such law protects them in school. Without such laws, there is nothing set in place that keeps an educator from using abusive force to restrain a child or seclude them. Click on the link above for more information on restraint and seclusion.
The Autism Safety Initiative takes bullying and applies it directly to the autism community. There are resources for parents whose children are being bullied and typical signs if you think your child is being bullied for reference. Unfortunately, children and adults on the autism spectrum disorder are often the targets of bullying starting at a young early due to their inability to be socially conscious in school or among friends. Bullying has become a growing societal concern and it doesn’t start or end with autism but this website does a great job informing the visitors of the dangers and possible solutions.
This is another area of overlap where regardless the person, there is only one thing to do when you suspect someone might try to harm themselves. The Autism Safety Initiative suggests immediately calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK if you or someone you know exhibits any of the signs listed on their website. Some of those signs include:
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
- Feeling hopeless
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life