Your autistic child is heading back to school, to a new school, or to school for the first time. In any case, their safety is your top priority, and you can’t keep your watchful eyes on them 24-7 while they’re attending school.
There are ways to keep them safe even when they’re out of sight and under the care of a teacher. Here are a few ways to maintain safety in the school setting.
Get Involved at School
Easier said than done when you’re juggling a full-time career, therapy sessions, and managing autism at home, but the more involved you can be with school, the better. Join the PTA or go to school board meetings when possible. This lets you stay on top of situations and policies that could impact your child’s success.
Evaluate Physical Safety
Take a look around the school and classroom, identifying any triggers that could initiate behaviors in your child. Make sure there are adequate locks in appropriate areas to prevent your child from wandering or running away if over-stimulated.
Provide Educational Materials to Teachers
Hopefully your child’s educators are experienced in working with children with ASD, but more education never hurts. Most teachers will welcome new studies, advice on strategies that work to mediate specific behaviors in your child, and other educational materials that will help them connect with and teach your child effectively.
Check Into Anti-Bullying Programs
Does your child’s school have an anti-bullying program? Studies show that almost half (46 percent) of autistic children report having been bullied within the past year, compared to just 10 percent of non-affected children. Choosing a school with an adequate anti-bullying program is critical. If your school doesn’t have one, offer to create it.
Learn About Restraint Policies
How does your child’s school handle out-of-control behaviors? Research has shown that commonly used restraint practices in public schools have resulted in injuries to students. If you disagree with the school’s policies on restraints, inquire about work-around solutions and offer alternatives. If the school isn’t willing to work with you, it might be in your best interest to investigate other education settings.
Your child’s education is important, but safety is a significant concern for children with ASD. Working with your child’s school and being proactive will help maintain your child’s safety when you can’t be with him. What steps to do you take to ensure your autistic child’s safety at school?