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Safety tips for children with autism | News

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Safety tips for children with autism

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Monday afternoon, an autistic 5-year old-girl in Bradenton slipped out the back door toward a backyard retention pond.

"There was a gentleman next door cleaning the pool, saw her go into the pond, yelled at her she needed to get out of the pond, at which time she went under," said Bradenton Lt. John Affolter.

The man immediately screamed for help and jumped into the pond. Landscaper Brian Bryket joined him.

"There was a guy in the water waiving his arms, said a little girl was in there. I went in for two hours trying to find her. Finally the divers showed up and pulled her out," he said.

This is the third time a child with autism has drowned since April, and with summer here, the danger is increased. Dr. Karen Berkman from the Center for Autism at USF says for most children, water has a special attraction.

"It's a way to help calm the body, relax you, get away from all the noise in life and it really serves a purpose for these kids."

Dr. Berkman has four recommendations to decrease the chances of a tragedy:

  • Make sure your home is secure and that all doors lock
  • Put up a fence to keep children from wandering
  • A radio tracking device can help keep you aware of the child's location
  • Make sure your neighbors are up to speed so they can be extra vigilant

Dr. Berkman also says using simple props like a paper stop sign can prevent a tragedy.

"Children with autism often learn better using their eyes rather than their ears, so it's important that there be a lot of information that explain what the rules are."



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