We all want to feel safe. It is a basic human need. It is a need of my child and I want to meet his need for feeling safe and actually staying safe. Today, let’s discuss physical safety. There are so many areas to think about but we will deal with just a few.
1.Eloping. When I had my first job in special education I began to hear a term, elopement. I didn’t know what others were talking about. I quickly learned this is when a child darts, runs or tries to escape from an environment that is causing stress. He may dart into the street or run out of the school. These behaviors are potential for all kinds of danger. Rules and social problem solving by the adults involved must be swift in these situations. I remember my son wanted to run after me out of the school building when I left him there. That had a lot of potential consequences. Working with the school, my son instructed that he was not allowed to leave the classroom. If he was distressed, he needed to tell his teacher right away and she would make some time for him and help him get through the event that was causing stress. This was reinforced at home, with his teacher and with his school counselor. Adequate adult supervision is essential if this takes time to teach and train the child when elopement has been a problem.
2. Wandering. A child who wanders off can be away from the group so quickly. I remember, my son would go on the outskirts of the playground in elementary school. This was a way he de-stressed and wandered in “his own little world.” The problem was that he had several times where he never heard the whistle to line up and go back to class. Often there were other grades out at recess. He was left on the playground and it scared the school (and me once I found out). After a couple incidents, we started a backup system. Our son was instructed he needed to pay attention and was given instruction on how to do this. Once again, everyone talked to him about this. We alerted all teachers and associates that they needed to make sure he had lined up before taking the class inside. We added one more precaution. His class instituted a buddy system so that there was another student that needed to make sure he was lined up when they were going into the school.
There are technological resources that can alert a parent about these behaviors. I’ve not used them so I can’t speak personally about them but special needs organizations could give more information on this topic.
Next week we will look at internet safety.