How to Keep Children with Disabilities Safe in the Real World
As parents our instincts is to want to keep our children safe and protected in the environment. Children can come across a variety of risks to personal safety in their everyday interactions in the real world. These safety threats can result in injury or death if appropriate action is not taken by the child or responsible adults. Parents can minimize threats in a variety of ways, such as by storing poisons or medicines in safe places, keeping fencing around their swimming pool, requiring their children to wear safety belts in cars and helmets on bikes, locking their doors at night, keeping smoke detectors in their homes, keeping their child in close proximity in a public place, and storing firearms safely (locked and unloaded). Parents also can teach a variety of safe behaviors that could prevent injury or death, such as refusing to leave with a stranger, not playing with matches, and refusing to play with a gun found in the home or the home of a friend.
It is the responsibility of the parent to teach safety skills to a child, but the child needs to learn how to apply the skills when the situation arises. Here is some strategizes to ensure those skills are generalized into the real world:
- Role playing different scenarios
- Child needs to be able to discriminate between different levels of dangerous
- Recognize dangerous situations and plan of action (avoid, escape, report)
- Reinforce the appropriate responses during role playing
The first training is for a child to learn to avoid dangerous situations before they occur. To avoid contact with a danger; stay away where there is threat lurking.
The second skill to teach a child is escaping a dangerous situation. Don’t get physically close to someone or something that can cause physical harm; the best action is running away. This has to be immediate the faster the child escapes the more likely he/she wont get hurt.
The third skill is reporting to an adult what had transpired. The adult needs to take the appropriate action to keep the child safe from the threat.
These safety skills are applicable in many situations:
to prevent firearm injury, unattended bottle of medicine or poison, an open gate to a swimming pool, or a lighter or matches; and by requests to leave with an adult, engage in sexual activity or other inappropriate touch with an adult, to consume alcohol or drugs with an older child, or to engage in any dangerous behavior.
Whether the safety threat comes from contact with a danger in the environment or from an action of another person, the child’s safety is best assured by his or her ability to (a) discriminate the presence of the threat and avoid contact with it, (b) get away from the threat, and (c) report the threat to a responsible adult.