April is autism awareness month
Day 21 ADLs/ Transferring/walking
Activities of daily living (ADL) are routine activities that people tend do every day without needing assistance. There are six basic ADLs: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring or walking and personal care.
A person’s ability to perform ADLs is important for determining what type of long-term care may be required.
Dylan can walk. He skips and quite often he trips, usually over apparently nothing. When he was younger Dylan’s favourite stimulatory behaviour was to run from one end of the lounge to the other. All day.
Thankfully Dylan’s current stimulatory behaviours aren’t so draughty but he still remains a very physical child.
He runs and skips all the time.
It’s as if the motion of the moving keeps him focused, a bit like a hamster on a wheel. When he is required to stop, for example when we are in the shops and we stop for a bit to browse the shelves Dylan will appear tired all of a sudden, almost sitting on the floor in the aisle, unable to stand any longer. As soon as we get moving and the skipping and flitting can continue he’s up and he’s fine.
Although I am incredibly grateful that Dylan is physically well and able his autism brings with it a sinister wandering risk which terrifies me.
Wandering and drowning is the biggest cause of death in children with autism. It is very common for children to be either drawn to water sources and be unable to swim or maybe it’s the inability to predict the depths of the water but it often ends catastrophically.
The risk of wandering is a real fear.
As we are trying to promote Dylan’s independence we are torn by the limits of his understanding of the outside world and the difficulties that others have understanding him.
To counterbalance this we have a range of strategies in place to try and keep him safe.
Dylan has a Velcro ID bracelet which has a laminated card within in with his name and our contact details; it looks a bit like a medical bracelet but is waterproof and non-irritant to Dylan so he is happy to keep it on.
He always has his iPad with him; this has our contact details on and Dylan’s name. If, and only if, it is suggested to him then Dylan will use his IPad to answer questions, it is also preloaded with our address to help Dylan come home to us should he get lost.
The local police have registered Dylan as a vulnerable person. This means if we report that he is missing there isn’t the usual ‘let sit and see if he’s coming home’ approach. If Dylan goes missing his photo will be instantly circulated via local door knocks or social media and choppers will be out looking for him. Much like searches for missing people with dementia.
This was very easy to organise, the feedback from the police when we arranged this was that the preparation would ultimately make their job easier and get Dylan home quicker should he go missing.
Just writing this post is making me feel sick – Any child goes missing is awful but Dylan is so, so vulnerable. I cannot imagine where he would go or what he would do.
So to make this a positive and proactive post….
What do you do if you find Dylan?
Picture this, there’s a young boy, standing alone, looking a bit aimless, flicking his hands and skipping on the spot.
He’s not with anyone but then he looks old enough to be out on his own.
It would take a lot for someone to approach him, to ask if he is okay. But please do.
Dylan won’t be able to answer, he may even ignore you.
Please don’t ignore him back.
He may not make eye contact. If he has an iPad or device with him, ask him to use it. By pressing the home button will show our contact details.
Check his wrist for an ID bracelet or his shoes for a gps tracker.
Stay with him.
call us, but please, please don’t leave him.
The biggest risk to Dylan’s safety when out alone is people turning a blind eye, not wanting to get involved or thinking that someone else will help him.
What if no-one does?
If you have heard locally that Dylan has gone missing and you kindly help to search for him, don’t call his name, he may hear you but he won’t be able to answer you, in fact a strangers voice shouting out for him may scare him and make him run further away or hide.
Instead buy food, take a burger or pizza out and call for him offering him pizza, this will stop him running away anxiously but could possibly be successful in luring him back to safety.
This has been the hardest post to write.
Thanks for reading x