Securing Reine

Trying to stay ahead of Reine often feels impossible. Her needs change constantly and what often seems like overnight. This is also true in regards to keeping Reine safe. This is obviously one of my number 1 priorities. She needs constant supervision but sometimes just wants to be left alone.

Family and friends often laugh or make comments when they see all the locks on the doors or hear all the beeps and noises the alarms and appliances make. I constantly hear “I do not know how you can live with all these noises. I know I couldn’t. It would drive me insane.” We have been called Fort Knox more than once. If they only knew that each lock and noise had a purpose. Trust me, it drives me insane. But the alternative is not an option for my family. Just like everything else in life, we adapt and do what we have to do. If that means beeps and noises then so be it.

Thinking outside of the box is a MUST in our world. I spend countless hours researching online and implementing different ideas to keep her safe. My hubby is starting to do the see the need for it now as well. Some ideas have worked….eh sorta kinda. Some were complete failures while others have been the best thing we have done to date.

Our lives today…

Baby Monitors
We actually use two different baby monitors now. Each monitor serves a purpose and is used for different things.

The first baby monitor is a “regular” baby monitor. It has been discontinued by the manufacturer but is still available to purchase online. I love this monitor. It has noise activation that basically filters out background noises. While Reine sleeps, the “sound activation” feature removes the background noise and hiss that usually occur and the monitor becomes totally silent. However, when Reine wakes up, the monitor usually tunes in immediately and amplifies the sound, waking me up.

The second baby monitor is a video monitor with an intercom feature. We use this monitor when Reine wants or needs alone time in certain rooms. She knows that we can see and talk to her but she still has her “space”. The video monitors adjust horizontally up to 300° and vertically up to 110°. They offer me a 3.5″ LCD monitor with 320 x 240 resolution with zoom in capability and a microphone so that I can talk to her if needed.

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Video Cameras
We are in the process of placing video cameras  along with the baby video monitors in certain rooms of our home. This way I am able to keep an eye on Reine while I make dinner, clean up a room, go to the bathroom, or help one of my other children while Reine is playing or having screen time in a different room on the same floor as myself. Our hope is that these will not be needed forever but if they are, they are.

Dutch Doors
My hubby and one of our neighbors decided they wanted to try creating dutch doors with a ledge for our kids’ bedroom doors. For those that do not know what a dutch door is, they are doors that are basically cut in half. This allows you to open the top half if you want or you can close the entire door for complete privacy. All 3 of my kids’ doors are dutch doors. However, we chose to remove Reine’s upper part of her door for now. We will add it back on or put on a regular door when it is needed.

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Bedroom Door Locks
We recently decided to put door locks on all bedroom doors except Reine’s. All doors are locked during the day when no one is in their rooms and left unlocked when we are in them. This has stopped Reine from sneaking into rooms and getting into things she should not be getting into.

Alarms
There are alarms on every entry door and all the windows of my home. We did this to stop Reine from sneaking out the doors or opening the windows when she decides she wants to try and wander from our home.

Two years ago she opened a window and tried to go onto our roof to “play with the birds”. All of our windows have the option of opening from the top or the bottom and also have a child protection device that only allows them to be open a couple of inches. Someone had bypassed the child lock and opened the window fully. Reine tried to take full advantage of that and pushed the screen out. It all happened in seconds.
We put an alarm on Reine’s door (to use at night) when she figured out how to open it and the gate at the top of the steps without setting the sound activated baby monitor off. One of her favorite things was to sneak out of her room and visit places like the kitchen and bathroom or our basement. In case you have not guessed by now, this is incredibly dangerous. The alarm worked for a couple of weeks until Reine decided to try and climb over her bedroom door instead of just opening it or calling for me. Obviously, that was a fail.

Motion Sensors
After the whole climbing the door episode, we installed a motion sensor in Reine’s room to use at night. It is positioned so that she can move around in her bed, but not crawl on her floor or open her door. It has been very successful so far.

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Entry Door Locks
This one seems like a no-brainer in general, but as Reine grows older she is able to figure out door locks easier. We are up to 3 locks on our front door and 2 on the back door. She kept figuring out the door locks and attempted to wander off each time.

Trackers
Reine is a wanderer / eloper. This means she takes off any chance she gets. This is one my worst fears and a constant battle with Reine. I am constantly looking into various GPS and Bluetooth-type devices. Below are two that we have tried so far.

My Buddy Tag 
My BuddyTag is a child safety device that resembles a watch in looks. It uses Bluetooth instead of GPS. Price ranges about $40-$50 depending on where you buy it. I purchased ours from Zulily at a discounted price. However, Zulily has a no return policy for any reason. So, if you end up not liking it, you are stuck with it. My Buddy Tag comes in several color combos. The battery is NOT replaceable but lasts over a year under normal usage. It features the following….

  • Out of Range Alert: Using the app you can set various settings. One example is how far your child can go before you are alerted that they are not within the range you have set.
  • Water Safety Alert: The wristband will sound an alarm for when the band is submerged for a certain amount of time.
  • Panic Alarm: There is a button that your child can push on the band that sends a panic tone alerting you that your child needs you ASAP.
  • Personal ID Area: There is a space for you to put personal information on the inside of the band.
  • Free Downloadable App: This is the app you need to communicate and set your My Buddy Tag up.
  • Emails Last Known Location: My Buddy Tag will send you an email with the time and map coordinates of the last known location your child is at.
  • Childproof Band: Band has a locking device that makes it hard for it to be taken off by the child.

We understood from the beginning that this device was NOT a GPS tracker or a device that would enable us to talk to Reine should she be separated from us. I was looking for something that would alert me when she attempted to elope or when she got near water. She LOVES water!

The package arrived in the mail and we were eager to set it up and try it out. We had HIGH hopes for this device. I installed the app and got it set up with no issues. Eager to try it out, I started out by setting it to the nearest setting. It went off constantly. I moved it to the farthest setting and it still went off. 98% of times it went off, she was standing beside me. The panic alarm sounded without Reine touching it.

Needless to say, those hopes were completely annihilated in less than 2 hours. Within 24 hours I uninstalled the app from my phone and we never touched it again.

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Gizmopal by LG
This is what we are currently using with Reine.She has the original Gizmopal . However, we are thinking about upgrading her to the newest model Gizmopal 2 soon.

The Gizmopal is a wearable first phone for a child. It comes in blue and pink and is water resistant. It can play fun sound clips for kids and it also reads the current time. They say this phone is geared towards children 4 years old to middle school aged. Honestly…I do not see that happening. Even the Gizmopal 2 is pushing it for middle schoolers. I would say it is geared more towards 4-8 yr olds (elementary school aged kids). Definitely not middle school aged kids.

It does have the GizmoPal app that parents can install on most Android or iOS devices so they can easily manage the GizmoPal. There is also a 4 digit PIN on the app to protect Gizmopal from unauthorized users from viewing or changing any settings.

It offers the capability to locate the child using GPS. (Disclaimer from the LG…Your child’s GizmoPal band needs to be turned on and have a wireless network signal. Locating the band can take up to 2 minutes. The location information provided is an approximate location of the GizmoPal band and results are not guaranteed.) We have tried the GPS several times. It was quick and very accurate for us. Parents with Android smartphones can also receive their child’s anticipated location information automatically at pre-scheduled times through Location Check in the app. For example, if you know your child normally gets home from school at 3:15 pm you can set a reminder for that time and get a notification on your phone so you can check whether your child gets home on time. This helps aid parents in keeping track of their kids throughout the day.

You can add names for locations (e.g., Grandma’s house) on the app and the name will be displayed on the map instead of the address. It also allows you to check history on up to 50 locations (regardless of date) on the app.

My favorite function on the Gizmopal is the auto answer function. When enabled, GizmoPal automatically answers after 10 seconds to allow caregivers to audibly monitor the environment. This means that I can hear sounds around Reine. 

There is one main caregiver that has full access to everything in the app. That includes setting the second caregiver up. The two caregivers are only allowed 1 number each for a total of 2 numbers the child is able to call. So if you have 2 caregivers and you want to add both your work numbers and your cell numbers to it, you are out of luck. The set caregivers can access GizmoPal through the companion app. You can also set up another 2 numbers that are allowed to call the phone. If anyone not preauthorized to call the phones tries to call the phone, it will not go through. Also, there are no text messages or voicemail options for this phone. When battery falls below 20%, LED glows red and a notification is sent to the primary user’s Gizmopal app. You are able to silence the ringtones and sounds from the app as well as adjust the Band volume from high or low. You can also remotely power off GizmoPal from the app. Please note that all the features are not able to be accessed by both caregivers. Most can only be accessed by the primary caregiver.

 

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Wandering

This post is going to focus on one of my worst fears with Reine…..WANDERING.

For some reason, the topic of wandering and autism is not discussed with many families of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by their physician, therapist, or diagnosing doctors. 

But it needs to be. Here’s why…..

What is wandering? 

Wandering is defined as when a person, who requires some level of supervision to be safe, leaves a supervised, safe space and/or the care of a responsible person and is exposed to potential dangers such as traffic, open water (drowning), falling from a high place, weather (hypothermia, heat stroke, dehydration) or unintended encounters with potentially predatory strangers.

You will also hear wandering referred to as:

  • Elopement
  • Bolting
  • Runner

3 Classifications Of Wandering.

• Goal-directed wandering: Wandering with the purpose of getting to something (water, train tracks, park, an item or place of obsession, etc.)

• Bolting/Fleeing: The act of suddenly running or bolting, usually to quickly get away from something, a negative reaction to an event, anxiety, fear, excitement, stress or uncomfortable sensory input.

• Other: Nighttime wandering; wandering due to disorientation, boredom, transition or confusion; or individual simply becomes lost.

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AUTISM-WANDERING STATISTICS

Missing children with autism and other developmental disabilities do not fit the current criteria for AMBER Alert.

Let that sink in for a second. I will repeat that sentence again for you.

Missing children with autism and other developmental disabilities do not fit the current criteria for AMBER Alert.

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Because children with autism are often challenged in areas of language and cognitive function, it may be difficult to search for them, or teach them about dangers and ways to stay safe. 

  • Nearly half of all children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will wander at one point or another, regardless of the type of adult supervision. This is nearly 4x the rate of those not on the spectrum.
  • More than 1/3 of those that wander are not able to communicate their name, address, or phone number.
  • In 2009, 2010, and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with an ASD ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement
  • 2 out of 3 of elopers reported their missing children had a “close call” with a traffic injury
  • 32% of parents reported a “close call” with a possible drowning
  • Wandering was ranked among the most stressful ASD behaviors by 58% of parents of elopers
  • 62% of families of children who elope were prevented from attending/enjoying activities outside the home due to fear of wandering
  • 40% of parents had suffered sleep disruption due to fear of elopement
  • Children with ASD are 8x more likely to wander between the ages of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing siblings
  • Half of families with elopers report they had never received advice or guidance about elopement from a professional
  • Only 19% had received such support from a psychologist or mental health professional
  • Only 14% had received guidance from their pediatrician or another physician

Wandering usually happens because the child has….

  • Found something of interest such as water, a park, train tracks, an animal, or object.
  • They may love adventure or just running in general.
  • They may also be trying to escape or to get away from something that is over stimuli, such as loud noises, commotion, or bright lights, too many people.

Dangers associated with wandering include but are not limited to….

  • Drowning
  • Getting struck by a vehicle
  • Falling from a high place
  • Dehydration
  • Hypothermia
  • Abduction
  • Victimization
  • Assault

According to Autism Wandering and Elopement Lethal Outcome Cases during the years 2009-2011

  • Accidental drowning accounted for 91%
  • 68% died in a nearby pond, lake, creek or river
  • 23% were in the care of someone other than a parent
  • Lethal outcomes in ASD wandering/elopement in girls were twice as high than in boys.

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Ways To Prevent Wandering.

  • Have an emergency plan in writing, laminated, and always at the ready.
  • Have your child take swimming lessons with an instructor that specializes in training those with special needs.
  • Seek out the root cause of your child’s wandering and create strategies to help prevent the need to wander.
  • Teach your child about dangers.
  • Use social stories to teach your child important information about themselves and those that live with them.
  • Create a detailed wandering log if your child has had any previous wanderings. 
  • Get your child an ID bracelet.
  • Check to see if their is a First-Responder Facilitated Tracking Program in your community.
  • Install door and window alarms for your home.
  • Use Shoe ID tags.
  • Look into Guardian Locks
  • Temporary Tattoos for outings
  • Get to know your neighbors. Ask them to notify you IMMEDIATELY if your child is seen in the neighborhood without an adult present.

Please know that even with all of the above things in play, you can NEVER let your guard down in regards to wandering. There is no peace of mind or guarantee that any of these things in part or whole will stop your child from wandering or save their life.

The day Reine was diagnosed with ASD and SPD, I purchased an ID bracelet that I could customize to suit her and that she could wear 24/7. After searching for several days online, I chose Road ID for her bracelet. They offer different ID options. Most with customizable plates and badges. The one we chose for Reine is a silicone bracelet with a customized removable plate and mini badges. She LOVES the fact that she can change out the bands. I LOVE the fact that they are durable, have not molded, shrunk, ripped etc.  

I finally had to replace the customized plate on her ID bracelet this past week. It lasted from October 2014 until February 2015 with her wearing it 24/7.

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I am in NO way affiliated with Road ID nor was I compensated in anyway by Road ID. I just seriously LOVE their bracelets!

Want to see where I got my info on wandering from? Check out these sites…..

awaare
iacc.hhs.gov
pediatrics
missingkids
google