Playing in the neighborhood

Being out in the neighborhood with family members, friends or peers can be a very enjoyable experience for people with autism. The tips below can help you teach your loved ones some key skills to keep them safe while playing with others in your area.

The Buddy System

Children who are alone have a greater risk of being harmed. Using the Buddy System is one way children can reduce their vulnerability to victimization. Learning the habit of staying with a buddy when going places can be taught and practiced at school in routine activities. When a child is sent to do an errand, allow a friend to go along. This will foster the development of an important safety habit.

Buddy System tips:

  • Keep your buddy’s number programed in your phone for quick access.
  • Tell your buddy where you are going.
  • Be sure that you are able to trust your buddy; however, make your own decisions.
  • Remember your buddy’s address.
  • Become familiar with your buddy’s allergies (peanuts, certain medications, etc.).
  • Do not be afraid to tell your buddy “no”.
  • Develop a “code” word with your buddy indicating you are uncomfortable with a situation or person.

David Munday – Law Enforcement Consultant/BlueLine Advantage, LLC 

Playing on the playground

Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment offer kids fresh air, friends, and exercise. So it's important for parents to make sure that faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior don't ruin the fun.

Each year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries. Many of these could have been prevented with the proper supervision.

Teaching kids how to play safely is important. If they know the rules of the playground, they're less likely to get hurt. Safe playground equipment and adult supervision are extremely important, but these components are only half of the equation. Kids must know how to be safe and act responsibly at the playground. 

Playground tips:

  • Use trees, lawn objects, or bushes as invisible barriers (i.e., don’t go beyond the tree).
  • Identify and point out danger areas in the neighborhood or on the playground (i.e., the busy street, the swift creek or lake).
  • Be sure that the individual with autism has proper identification in case he or she escapes or runs away.
  • Keep a current photograph of the individual available and update the photograph every year.
  • Take advantage of free fingerprinting at the local police department and keep the prints on file with the photograph.
  • Ensure the individual with autism has a cell phone with the GPS mechanism activated.
  • Be mindful of the dogs or animals in the neighborhood.
  • Teach the neighbors to be observant and report any unusual activity while the child is playing outside.

David Munday – Law Enforcement Consultant/BlueLine Advantage, LLC