Parents Promoting the Well-Being of their Autistic Children: Home Safety

Safety in the home is especially important for autistic children because there are more potential dangers for them than for neurotypical children. In order to create a safe home environment for an autistic child, the parents must first understand the reasons underlying the child’s behavior. At that point, they can begin to modify and teach the child the correct action for each situation. They can also begin to physically modify those areas within the home where the child likes to spend most of his or her time, which is different for every child.


An autistic child’s home may appear different from a typical home. For instance, dimmers are often used since autistic children typically are more susceptible to sudden mood changes caused by the room’s lighting. Lights that flicker, hum, or are harshly colored can induce sensory overload, causing the child to feel uneasy and scared. Alternatively, mellow light colors can cause a sense of calmness and creativity for an autistic child. Parents should also consider locking all the cabinets and drawers in order to secure items that could be unsafe. They might even lock up toys since this would encourage the child to initiate communication with them in order to gain access to the toys.  


Children with ASD are eight times more likely to elope than their typically-developing siblings.



If an autistic child tends to “wander,” parents should consider implementing other strategies. Changing glass windows to be plexiglass will prevent children from breaking the glass and injuring themselves or facilitating escape. Alarms should also be placed at every entrance and exit in order to alert parents if their child escapes. If parents are worried about their child “wandering” while they are asleep, they can investigate whether programs like Take Me Home or Smart911 are available in their area.



The home is a natural learning environment which can allow autistic children to learn and grow 24/7. Labeling everything in the home allows the child to understand how to organize things based on categories and to realize that everything has its place. Verbally labeling and explaining certain sounds or actions can help the child overcome issues of partiality. Using colored tape or hanging visual signs throughout the house can help set expectations and limitations. For instance, using a STOP sign or colored tape can tell the child which items/areas are off limits or what activities are dangerous. The addition of gates or barriers can prevent the child from falling down the stairs and can limit access to designated areas in the home. It’s also important to have a private space where the child can relax in order to feel safe and secure when situations become difficult.


Autistic children have a hard time with executive functions, such as planning a schedule, because so many unknowns can cause things to change. Parents should make firm, predictable schedules because those help autistic children feel safer. Having a routine allows the child consistency each day, which helps increase confidence and manage their anxiety. Schedules should include regular times for meals, therapy, school, and bedtime, with minimal disruptions. If the schedule changes, parents should prepare the child for it in advance. Additionally, it’s important for parents to schedule a time for fun because doing activities that autistic children enjoy will help them open up and connect with their parents.



Change is an adjustment. It takes time for parents to get used to locks on cabinets, labels on everything, and having repetitive schedules. In the end, however, these changes will help an autistic child feel more secure and safer at home. This allows the entire family to be happier and enhances the child’s well-being in the home.


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