Traffic Safety For Children With Special Needs
Traffic-related mishaps account for a large number of deaths and injuries amongst our societys children and youth. When a child has special needs, the risk factor can increase dramatically due to several factors including:
- Lack of awareness of danger
- Heightened distractibility
- Difficulty or inability to filter out background stimuli
- Higher levels of impulsivity
- Higher levels of restlessness and lower levels of patience
- Greater cognitive and learning challenges
Therefore, as parents and educators, we need to work that much harder to teach our children with special needs about street and traffic safety and employ strategies that that can help compensate for any developmental or cognitive challenges our kids might face. Here are some tips and resources you may find helpful in making the streets safer for your special needs child.
Signs Of Speech And Language Difficulties
- Speaks in an atypical tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch .
- Repeats the same words or phrases over and over, often without communicative intent.
- Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it.
- Uses language incorrectly or refers to him or herself in the third person.
- Has difficulty communicating needs or desires.
- Doesnt understand simple directions, statements, or questions.
- Takes what is said too literally .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with speech and language. Often, they start talking late.
What To Do If You Are Concerned
You can access the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers via this link free: M-CHAT-R. You can take this free online test and it will provide you with results and information regarding your individual child and their potential for having autism.
This information can be helpful if you are debating whether to contact your health care professional regarding your concerns. You can make an educated decision based on the results from the M-CHAT-R.
If your child is at risk, according to the results, you should immediately contact your health care provider, such as your pediatrician. They can help you in your next steps.
There is also a free download from the Autism Speaks website for parents: First Concern to Action Tool Kit. This kit provides concerned parents with a great deal of helpful information such as the following:
- Information on normal versus abnormal childhood development by age.
- Helpful tips on what do to if you are concerned about your childs development.
- Information on how to get your child evaluated/ tested for autism.
- What treatment options are available for autism, if needed.
The download is completely free and will further help a parent who is concerned about their child and their development. The earlier the intervention, the better the child will respond to therapies in the long run.
Detection and treatment of autism early is of greater help to a child who may be affected. Dont hesitate if you think your child may be affected.
So how to forgive yourself?
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How Is Asd Diagnosed
There is no simple medical test for diagnosing ASD.
To diagnose a child with ASD, a healthcare professional observes the childs levels of:
This could include the childs:
- verbal skills
- how they relate to others
- behaviours related to their interests and activities
- repeated actions related to how they speak, move or use objects
To determine the severity of ASD, the healthcare professional observes the amount of difficulty the child has with:
- social communication
Medical professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders to evaluate ASD.
If a health care provider thinks that your child may have ASD, get a referral for a diagnosis. A specialist will create a detailed description of your child’s strengths and challenges. A team of health professionals may work together for this assessment.
Testing for ASD will also make sure that this is not a different condition. For instance, sometimes hearing loss can explain your childs unresponsiveness in social situations or when their name is called.
What Can I Do To Help
It helps to use clear, simple communication, and to minimise eye contact. Just say: ‘No running’ and in appropriate, reinforce this with a no running or no climbing symbol.
When walking along a road with your child, you could try and provide distractions to keep them focused.
- point out things in the environment
- singtheir favourite song
- bring something alongto distract them .
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asd
Every person with ASD is unique, so the timing and severity of the first signs and symptoms can vary widely. Some children with ASD show signs within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not become obvious until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD appear to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills and/or start losing skills.
During infancy , a child may show symptoms that include:
- Limited or no eye contact
- No babbling
- Appearing not to hear
- Playing with toys in an unusual or limited manner
- Showing more interest in objects instead of people
- Starting language skills but then stopping or losing those skills
- Showing repetitive movements with their fingers, hands, arms or head
Up to 2 years of age, there may be continuing symptoms from infancy. A child may also:
- Focus only on certain interests
- Be unable to have reciprocal social interactions
- Move in unusual ways, such as tilting their head, flexing their fingers or hands, opening their mouth or sticking out their tongue
- Have no interest in playing with other children
- Repeat words or phrases without appearing to understand them
- Have behavioural issues, including self-injury
- Have trouble controlling their emotions
- Like to have things a certain way, such as always eating the same food
Possible signs of ASD at any age:
Child With Autism Street Signs
Irondequoit families can now request to put up a sign in their neighborhood indicating an autistic child lives in the area. The state started allowing towns to put up these signs back in May and the town of Irondequoit just got the go-ahead.Lawana Jones, president of the Rochester Autism Council, said shes been looking into installing these signs for at least 10 years. She said shes excited Irondequoit is leading the charge on putting them up locally.I think its important because not only are you making the drivers aware that theres a child in the neighborhood that may wander out into the road, but it also makes your neighbors aware that youve got a child in the neighborhood that there are some safety concerns about, Jones said.Irondequoit town supervisor Dave Seeley said there are a few boxes to check to get a sign approved. The autistic child is under age 18, the average daily traffic volume in the neighborhood is less than 2,000 cars, the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or lower, and the street is residential.
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The New Jersey Autism Registry
New Jersey is one of a few states in the country that has a statewide registry of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder . The Registry was created to better understand autism or ASD in New Jersey and to link families to available services and supports. Your childs health care provider will complete the registration, and provide information such as:
- childs name
- your date of birth
- your childs diagnosis, who diagnosed him/her, and when
Information in the Registry is kept private. You can choose to be in the registry anonymously, but then your family will not be able to be linked to special child health case management services. These county-based, coordinated service providers have many years of experience and knowledge of the local, county, and statewide resources available to families of children with special health care needs.
State law requires licensed health care providers to report any child diagnosed with autism to the Autism Registry. A child has to be:
- A resident of New Jersey
- Under the age of 22
- Have one of these diagnoses:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified
- Asperger’s Disorder/Syndrome
Parents can facilitate the registration process by informing their health care provider of the law and by telling them that they want their child registered. They can also assist with completing and sharing the autism registration form with their child’s health care provider.
Autism Awareness Signs Installed
MATHER Gina Hutchinson has been living with a greater peace of mind for months now after Morgan Township officials put up road signs on her street, bringing awareness to motorists about her autistic 5-year-old son.
People have slowed down for the most part, she said. It seems people are watching for kids more.
Hutchinson said she noticed last year drivers speeding passed her home on Fifth Street in Mather. She said speed would be concerning for any parent, but especially for her son, Landon. She said autistic children can often take off running or make unpredictable movements drivers may be unprepared for.
Autistic children are known for darting, she said. Hes never unsupervised but anything can happen in a split second.
She went to the township in July asking for signs to be put up to warn drivers to use caution near her home. By the fall, township Supervisor Jim Gayman ordered two signs and put them up 50 feet from the Hutchinsons home on either side. They are yellow diamond signs that read Caution autistic child in area.
Now that its April Autism Awareness Month Hutchinson is speaking out about the tremendous difference the signs have made. She said people have slowed down and seem to be more cautious when driving in the area.
Hutchinson said she was thankful to the township for their willingness to install the signs because there are other autistic children in her neighborhood.
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State Introduces Child With Autism Dot Sign
LANCASTER, N.Y. A terrifying close call in Western New York has inspired state leaders to introduce a new Department of Transportation traffic sign to keep people living with autism safe.
Children with autism tend to more frequently engage in what they call wandering, or eloping, behavior where they might wander off or bolt unexpectedly into the street, Rep. Monica Wallace said.
Similar road signs had been installed in different cities and towns across the state, but they did not meet DOT regulations.
The move creates a uniform sign that can be used anywhere across the state.
Finding Forgiveness Amidst Grief
When we lose a loved one a parent, an ex-partner, even a pet it can be tempting to put some blame on yourself. Part of the grieving process should include mourning the loss and moving forward, with them forever in your heart.
However, when we fall into the trap of blame and regret, we end up robbing ourselves of the chance to appreciate our time, memories, and experiences we had with our loved ones who have passed.
This makes the loss of them even harder to bear. Its a difficult cycle to break and can lead to some serious mental health issues, like depression and anxiety.
Moreover, forgiving yourself in the face of death is without a doubt tough. Its okay to be a work in process, especially considering that the loss of a loved one is an event that will stick with you forever.
Of course, thats all the more reason to begin learning how to forgive yourself and move forward. Acknowledging and accepting your mistakes doesnt make you unworthy of forgiveness.
Losing a pet to a car accident or house fire doesnt make you a bad person or a bad owner. Your dog or cat loved you dearly, and although their untimely death is unfortunate and heartbreaking, the best way to honor your pet is to own your mistake, learn from it, and forgive yourself.
Furthermore, many of us desperately want our loved one to get better, to seek help, but if they dont thats not on you.
Things You Can Do After a Loss
They go on to list so methods worth implementing after a loss:
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How Is Autism Normally Diagnosed
Getting a diagnosis for a child can be helpful, as it enables parents, as well as others, to understand and support the child better.
Diagnostic assessment can also help to clarify if a child requires any extra support or resources for their special needs. Support from voluntary organization and opportunities to meet parents of children with similar difficulties can also be a source of great support.
The assessment of autism tends to be conducted at child developmental centres or by child and adolescent mental health services by professionals such as paediatricians, psychologists, speech and language therapists or psychiatrists.
It usually involves detailed interviews with the childs parents/carers concentrating on the childs early development and current behaviour, direct play assessment with the child as well as collecting information from the childs nursery or school.
The childs GP can refer them to an appropriate specialist.
Center For Disease Control: Learn The Signs Act Early Campaign
The Autism Science Foundation is a partner in the CDCs Learn the Signs, Act Early Campaign. The following early indicators of autism were developed by the experts in this program.
If your child is two months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
- Doesnt respond to loud sounds
- Doesnt watch things as they move
- Doesnt smile at people
- Doesnt bring his/her hands to mouth
- Cant hold his/her head up when pushing up on tummy
If your child is four months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
- Doesnt watch things as they move
- Doesnt smile at people
- Cant hold his/her head steady
- Doesnt make sounds or coo
- Doesnt bring things to his/her mouth
- Doesnt push down with legs when feet are placed on a hard surface
- Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions
If your child is six months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
- Doesnt reach for things
- Shows no affection for caregivers
- Doesnt respond to sounds around her/him
- Doesnt make vowel sounds
- Doesnt laugh or squeal
- Seems unusually stiff or unusually floppy
If your child is nine months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
If you of autism in older children, teens and adults:
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How Parents Can Spot The Warning Signs
As a parent, youre in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone and observe behaviors and quirks that a pediatrician, in a quick fifteen-minute visit, might not have the chance to see. Your childs pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but dont discount the importance of your own observations and experience. The key is to educate yourself so you know whats typical and whats not.
Monitor your childs development. Autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on whenor ifyour child is hitting the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays dont automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk.
Take action if youre concerned. Every child develops at a different pace, so you dont need to panic if your child is a little late to talk or walk. When it comes to healthy development, theres a wide range of typical. But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your childs doctor immediately. Dont wait.
Regression of any kind is a serious autism warning sign
Teach Your Child Within His Or Her Ability Level And Set Reasonable Goals
Not every teaching methodology will work with every child. For example, most of the information conveyed within the videos provided above would be lost on Michael, my 17-year-old son who has Autism. Due to his more severe language deficits and almost non-existent ability to comprehend dangerous situations, our goals for making Michael street-safe are very different than those developed for other individuals who fall elsewhere on the Autism Spectrum or who have different special needs. Their teachers and caregivers may be striving for their students to gain greater or complete independence where our goal is to ensure that Michael is under our control at all times when we are out so that he does not suddenly dart into the path of a moving car.
We have accomplished this by teaching Michael to stop upon reaching a curb, look at the adult beside him whose hand he is holding, and say with his best approximation Stop, is it safe? He has learned that he is not to move until his helper states, Yes at which time they can together cross the street or parking lot. Basically, we have paired or associated the act of reaching a curb with the behavior of stopping, in order to ensure that Michaels companion can have a moment to assess the traffic situation in order to keep our son safe from harm. What continues to amaze me is how completely ingrained this behavior has become in Michael.
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Signs Of Social Difficulties
- Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or whats going on around them.
- Doesnt know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
- Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
- Doesnt play pretend games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
- Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them.
- Doesnt seem to hear when others talk to them.
- Doesnt share interests or achievements with others .
Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder. Many kids on the autism spectrum seem to prefer to live in their own world, aloof and detached from others.