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Last Updated: 05/11/2017
 

 Article of Interest - Autism

Autism Proof Your Home: Making A Secure Environment
Original URL: http://autism.about.com/library/weekly/aa051900a.htm
from About.com: Autism

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If you look at the homes in which Autistic children live, you will find one thing in common. They are virtually bare of any "luxuries". People who come to visit, if there are any, may wonder why the furniture is old and shows signs of excessive wear, why the walls don't have knick-knacks, or why the book shelves are empty. The reason is simple, the parents or other caregivers have chosen to "Autism Proof" their homes.

"Autism Proofing" is only one of the measures that a parent must take to provide a safe, secure environment for the autistic child, but it becomes an important issue when a child is diagnosed as Autistic. Many people do not know how to make their homes safe from the damage caused by this child's condition or how to make their home safer for the child. In view of this fact, let's take a look at some things which can be done to protect the child from his/her environment and the environment from the child.

One of the first things that can be done is to make sure that you choose very heavy home furnishings. Some Autistic children like to move furniture, tip it over in a fit of anger (or frustration) or use it to reach spaces in the home that would otherwise be inaccessible. If heavy furniture isn't an option, some parents have chosen to bolt the furniture to the walls, in order to prevent physical damage both to the child and to the furniture.

Another action which may be taken is to replace furnishings in the areas where the child has access with old, used furnishings from a garage sale. While this may cause the living room to not resemble something from "House Beautiful", as if it ever could with an Autistic child in the home, it will save on the expense. It's not so bad if the child tears up a $50 sofa, but if it's a $500 sofa, that's another matter. Choosing an older, sturdy design for furniture is a way of saving money and frustration for the parent. If you do have areas which you want to keep nice, lock them up so that the child doesn't have access to them.

One of the best things you can do for your child, autistic or not, is to childproof electrical appliances. This means covering wall sockets, eliminate extension cords, or cover them with rubber channels. Even if you have to have additional sockets installed, it is still cheaper than a hospital bill for electrical burns or shocks.

Some things that most parents don't think of, but which are dangerous are houseplants, cigarettes and cat litter boxes. Many houseplants are poisonous if eaten, and children, especially Autistic ones, often like the sensory experience of tasting things. Along with this danger is the one of a flower pot falling on someone. Autistic children often like to reach for things or climb, and if a hanging plant fell and struck them, the resulting injuries could be serious. Cigarettes can be quite dangerous if eaten. Nicotine is a potent poison if ingested, and leaving a cigarette in the ashtray, even if it is not lit, can result in injury. Cat litter boxes are a curiosity to many Autistic children. Since much research indicates that Autism is at least linked to immune system deficiencies, and since litter boxes carry diseases, it would make sense to keep access to litter boxes to a minimum.

As you can see, there are a lot of precautions which must be taken with an Autistic or PDD child. Some are for the protection of property, but property can be replaced if damaged. Much more important is the protection of the child from illness or injury. As your summer, with an autistic child at home all day, begins, take a moment and check your house for potential danger spots. If you do, you won't "live to regret it".

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