Parenting a baby with Autism earlier than/throughout/after a hurricane
HOUSTON (KW39) – Hugh is 3 years old, full of life, cute as a button and a survivor of Hurricane Ida. He is my godchild and the son of Lindsey LeBlanc. He also has an autism spectrum disorder.
“The room you saw is his playroom, he has an everyday routine … he likes his routine; he has many sensory disorders. Its normality, in which it functions every day, has been disturbed, ”says Lindsey.
Parenting during a catastrophic hurricane can be hard enough on its own, but if your child needs a little extra care and preparation, it can make difficult times difficult.
Southeast Texas is prone to hurricanes and natural disasters, just like our friends in Louisiana. Tyrrell Ann Venditti M. Ed, BCBA, LBA is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and Certified Special Educator at the Lily Center here in Houston. It runs an integrated preschool for children with and without disabilities in the Heights district and offers ABA services for children aged 0-10. She gives us tips on how parents of children with special needs can prepare for these unsafe events.
“Your child may not experience this natural disaster the way a normally developing child would. It is more important that you are prepared, it is even more important. You want to make sure you have all of the prescriptions and medical supplies you need, but … a blanket in a shelter may not work for your child. They can have sensory defenses, they can be “too scratchy”. Pack these things, whatever it is. If you know that your child only eats certain textures or colors of food, perhaps these things should be prepared, ”says Venditti.
Tyrell says it might be worth evacuating if you have the means. Even if it is not recommended for EVERYONE. Because your experience and that of your child could be even more traumatic.
Lindsey adds, “It’s hard, but I feel like you’ll just find out. We’ll go and try to get him to a safer place that is a little easier for him to handle. ”
Additional information from Tyrell Ann Venditti:
“The first thing parents should do when preparing for hurricanes is to reach out to the people in their child’s life. Be it a teacher, occupational therapist, behavioral analyst, perhaps a pediatrician, speech therapist, etc. Ask them, “What should I do specifically for my child that goes beyond what is recommended by professionals for these situations?
The importance is magnified over what it would be to parents of a neurotypically developing child. That’s because your experience MAY isn’t great, so you want to be sure that you are following FEMA and READYHARRIS recommendations. Have a disaster kit ready.
It can be of great help just to go through the day and see what your child who is different needs. This can be a specific breakfast meal, communication device, etc. You want to make sure that your child can communicate with you and others. Regardless of whether it is an iPad, speech output device or even sign language.
Another part of this element of communication, in case your child is separated from you, needs to be able to tell a first responder who they are and where to contact them. This can be in the form of a medical ID or armband, especially if there are medical conditions that need to be known. However, the most important information about this would be your name, phone number, and a way to reach mom and dad. Having enough chargers cannot be exhausted when you rely on the technology.
Unfortunately, neurodivergent individuals are more likely to have serious drowning accidents. Hurricanes bring water. Our biggest concern during hurricane season is flooding. Depending on the child, they may not respond to things like “Hey, stay away, it’s dangerous!”
Water security is crucial. Some kind of swimming program is strongly recommended to incorporate into your daily routine. This applies to both non-emergencies and emergencies.
Sometimes people who are neurodiverse have problems wondering or running away. This can be dangerous after a storm. You want to make sure that in these situations you have a way to prevent this from happening.
Shelters can be loud, bright and loud! That doesn’t always work for the neurodiverse population. Some of the animal shelters are suitable for this. If you can, call ahead to find out if there’s a quieter place that won’t trigger these sensory defenses. “
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