Users who purchase and register their SafetyAnchor, login from here to monitor safety of their loved ones remotely. Also security staff at organizations such as cities and universities who register with Safety Labs remotely manage security after login.
Autism wandering is most prevalent among those on the severe end of autism. So what is autism and what does it mean to be on the severe end of autism?
In their book, Effective Instruction for Children with Autism: An Applied Behavior Analysis Approach, authors Robert F. Gulick and Thomas P. Kitchen provide a simple definition and a more detailed explanation.
The simple definition: “Autism-is a brain based disorder characterized by communication impairment, social impairment and restrictive, repetitive or stereotypical patterns of behavior, interests or activities.”
The Detailed Explanation: “It helps to think of the ‘autistic spectrum’ as a continuum, with one end considered ‘severe’ and the other end considered ‘mild’. When an individual is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) most professionals place them somewhere along that spectrum. Regardless of where they are placed autism’s defining characteristics include communication deficits, social impairment, and restrictive, repetitive or stereotypic patterns of behavior.” (Gulick and Kitchen, 2007, p. 12-13)
Children, teens and adults who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are unique and no two are alike. Family members and people who work with them can also attest that each person they know with autism is different from the next one. Further information on the diagnostic criteria for autism based on the DSM-5 can be found at the Autism Canada site.
Mild, Moderate and Severe Autism:
A child diagnosed with mild autism, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, may be able to communicate at their expected age ability however they may have some challenges socially and they may have some sensory issues.
If an individual is given a moderate autism diagnosis, then he or she is able to communicate but likely not at age or grade expectations and they may be easily frustrated.
At the severe end of the autism spectrum, most of these children are unable to speak and will have some form of restrictive, repetitive behaviour. Examples of restrictive, repetitive behaviours are hand flapping, pacing or rocking. The site Verywell provides more information. Wandering off from a safe environment is most prevalent in this group.
Individuals with autism may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive.
Hypersensitive (Sensory Overload):
If someone with autism is auditory hypersensitive they may react to loud noises by covering their ears or want to leave the area where the loud noise is occurring, or they might scream and hit themselves, or possibly cry. If they are hypersensitive to visual stimulation an individual may stare for long periods of time at lights, or at a mark on the wall or at a picture. Smell, taste and touch can also be sources of sensory overload. Someone with severe autism may slip away unnoticed just to escape sensory overload.
If someone with autism is hyposensitive then they may not react to cold, wetness. heat, loud noise, visual stimulation or taste. This presents dangers because they may run outside without appropriate outdoor wear. Or they might remain inside an unsafe setting such as a burning building, or put their hand into hot or extremely cold water. As with hypersensitivities, reactions to hypersensitivities are unique to the individual with autism.
The National Autistic Society which is located in the United Kingdom provides excellent information about sensory overload, hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity.
Meltdowns can be a common occurrence.
A meltdown occurs when a child, teen or adult with autism feels as though everything has gone wrong and there is nothing that can make their world a better place. It can be as simple as breaking a muffin into smaller pieces for eating when the child only wants to eat the muffin whole. Or a meltdown could be crying uncontrollably. For another individual a meltdown could be throwing items or screaming. Others may display self injury. They may run away to escape whatever caused the frustrating situation.
What an Autism meltdown feels like provides insightful information about meltdowns. It is based on the experience of the writer who is an adult with autism. She is also the mother of children with autism. Taylor Orns who is also on the autism spectrum describes her meltdowns in this article from Autism Speaks. Autism-Causes offers explanations about meltdowns and the children having them.
Safety Labs Inc.
Parents, guardians and staff who work with individuals who wander away, and have severe autism should consider wandering protection. A wireless wander protection system created by Safety Labs Inc. is a device called The Wandering Protection Safety. It is ideal for children, teens or adults with severe autism, who are prone to elopement or wandering. This video provides information about the wandering protection system. Another blog post about autism wandering on the Safety Labs Inc. site can be found here.
Autism is a spectrum of traits that are as unique and individual as each person diagnosed with ASD. If you have a child, teen or adult child on the severe end of autism who is prone to wandering, consider obtaining The Wandering Protection Safety from Safety Labs Inc. to protect your loved one.
Gulick, Robert F. and Kitchen, Thomas P., Effective Instruction for Children with Autism: An Applied Behavior Analysis Approach, 2007, Dr. Gertrude A. Barber National Institute.