Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We Must Be Realistic About Autism

The importance of a realistic approach to autism is made clearer every time tragic news is received of an autistic child or adult wandering into danger, and sometimes death. We can have all the fine pseudo-intellectual discussions about labeling and the strengths enjoyed by some autistic people. But we must not, as some would have us do, embrace autism as a joy and ignore the harsh realities confronting some autistic persons and their families. Fortunately Keith Kennedy was found alive in the woods a week after walking away from camp. The stories of wandering, missing autistic people do not always turn out so well as illustrated by the tragic drowning death of a five year old autistic girl in Florida.

In Autistic child's death renews effort to keep kids safe Jennifer Rivera reports on reaction to the death of Kaitlin Bacile who drowned in a canal after wandering away from her home Saturday afternoon. Kaitlin left home through a door to the garage that she was able to get open. The article mentions some of the steps parents can take to protect their autistic children, including locked doors, alarms, tracking bracelets and teaching autistic children to swim. Do not assume that all autistic children are naturally good swimmers.

Personally I believe it is important to be realistic about your child's autism disorder and the challenges it presents and be proactive in preventing harm in coming to your child. Be alert, ever and always alert, to dangers presented by the everyday world of motor vehicle traffic, strangers, water and other hazards. And hope for the best.

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