Teaching children to make safe choices and providing visual supports is another critical way that you can help keep your child from wandering.
Practice Your Address: Many children who wander are unable to provide reliable contact information, delaying their return home. If your child is verbal or can write, help them practice giving his or her full name, address and at least one contact phone number. There are many free printables out there to help make learning fun, including example 1 and example 2.
Social Stories: Social stories are short lessons that take the form of a story (with or without pictures) and offer a replacement for a problem behavior. AWAARE offers several free social stories that can be used to help teach children to stay in the house or apartment. You can also purchase and customize social stories created by Twigtale through a partnership with Autism Speaks.
Stop Sign Visuals: It seems too simple to actually work, but for children who are visual learners, placing a stop sign visual on a door can serve as a potent reminder to stay inside. AWAARE's Big Red Safety Toolkit includes a page with stop sign visuals that you can print yourself or you can purchase printed and laminated stop signs from the Big Red Safety Shop. Once you post your stop signs, be sure to talk to your child about what to do if he or she sees one. For example, "If you see a stop sign, wait for mom or dad." Reinforce your child when he or she waits at the stop sign and continue to do so until the behavior is part of your normal routine.
Swimming Lessons: With accidental drowning listed as the number one cause of death in children who wander, teaching your child to swim can be critical to his or her survival. A number of local providers offer adaptive swimming lessons (call 1-440-250-5563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of local providers).
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