Have you made your disaster kit yet? I’ll admit, mine is still a work in progress, but I’m determined to have it done before Christmas!
One of my all time mommy worries is not being able to speak for my children in an emergency. At the risk of sounding hysterical, I’ll admit that I worry about being knocked out in a car accident or that my children will get lost at the beach or Disneyland and have to fend for themselves.
Along these lines, there are two additional considerations that need to be addressed to prepare your child for an emergency.
If your child has a significant medical diagnosis, including a diagnosis of ASD, I encourage you to consider medical identification jewelry. There are tons of options on-line. My favorite is Medic Alert (www.medicalert.org). I like Medic Alert because it doesn’t include your child’s name and because, in addition to listing your child’s diagnosis on the jewelry, it includes an ID number that emergency responders and hospital staff can use to access complete medical information. You can even upload information for emergency responders and medical providers to use to calm and comfort your child. Medic Alert also includes a wallet card, car sticker and fridge magnet to alert emergency responders in case you can’t.
Children need to learn specific skills to use in an emergency. These skills will vary depending on your child’s age, development, and level and mode of communication. Some skills to consider include: personal identification information (full name, parents names, age, birthday, phone number, etc.), knowing when and how to ask for help, identifying appropriate adults to approach for assistance, stranger awareness, dialing 911 and communicating with the operator, fire safety skills, accurately reporting / identifying injuries or pain, requesting basic needs (food, water, toileting), recalling information, and coping strategies. You may also want to create a social story, review a script or role play different emergency scenarios. Lessons to teach all of these skills can be found in the Skills® Curriculum (www.skillsforautism.com). The Skills® Curriculum includes multiple adaptations for learners using adaptive and augmentative communication.
All of this planning and preparation will decrease stress and fear during an emergency. Hopefully your hard work will all be for nothing, other than to give you peace of mind. In my opinion, peace of mind alone is well worth it.