Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Elopement Safety Plan

I've been going back and forth on Facebook trying to explain in short answers how we TRY to keep Chloe safe from bolting, eloping, running, escaping, etc., etc.  So I thought I'd make it easier on everyone and lay out our Current Chloe Safety Plan.
First and foremost, we are VERY lucky to live in a town that has just implemented the Project Lifesaver Program which has outfitted 6-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, Chloe, with a radio transmitter bracelet which she wears on her ankle.  IF she were to get out AND get lost the police and the first responders in our town are trained to respond IMMEDIATELY and can locate her from up to a mile away.  As I mentioned, it is a radio transmitter so it works when GPS signals might fail (like in the woods, or in water, God forbid!)  Chloe HATES wearing bracelets, but the officer was wonderful about introducing it to her and she wears it without a problem.  It never comes off - she wears it in the tub and swimming, as it's fully waterproof.  She can decorate it if she wants, but she prefers to sort of pretend it isn't there.  She doesn't want any attention drawn to it.  It's just there.  (Or "isn't" in her mind).  Here's a pic from the my last post "Reality Bites" which I also recommend, as it talks about the scary reality of having a bolter!  I will also be looking into adding the PAL system through Project Lifesaver which I believe is a GPS system.  It would be nice to have both systems in place in case one doesn't work as well as the other.  
Next in our plan was to work our state Department of Developmental Services and our local school through Chloe's IEP.  We have 2 BCBA's on board (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) one from DDS and one from the school district.  Together we have created an additional safety plan including the following:
  • focus on teaching Chloe the verbal cue "STOP!"  This cannot be done with a game because that confuses Chloe who already thinks running off IS a game.  It is very serious and when she hears "STOP!" she must learn to STOP immediately without hesitation.  We also discussed using a different word, but determined "stop" is the word everyone will know (including strangers) so we want her to respond to anyone's STOP
  • focus on increasing SAFETY AWARENESS - including but not limited to - stopping at curbs and stop signs; learning full name, address and phone; stopping and listening to adults
  • the addition of visual cues at home - Chloe likes to read signs so we have a sign by each exterior door with simple instructions and coinciding pictures to give her cues.  A large plain "STOP" sign can also be used
  • we have installed hooks and latches up out of her reach on all exterior doors
  • the main exit door has a very loud door chime on it which we can hear throughout the house - we are all VERY cued into it so if we hear it we immediately take a role call and do a status check of Chloe's exact whereabouts
  • When in public we TRY to use a stroller or monkey backpack, but now that she's 6 she is much more resistant to these things and prefers some independence.   We try to double team her, keep her brightly clothed and don't ever let her get more than a step ahead.
  • On vacations or away from home for extended periods we "assign" Chloe times so we KNOW who is responsible for that time period and make a clear designation if we are to reassign responsibility.  That way there is no confusion about who should be watching her.  
I think that covers most everything we've got in place right now.  Oh, we have looked into a service dog as well, however with our family already having 2 dogs we think it would be a little too much for us now, however it is never completely ruled out.  It's my understanding they can be trained to stay with your child at all times (possibly herd your child home or stay with them until they are found and much more!)  Please feel free to leave a comment with questions.  Good luck out there to all my fellow escapee parents.
The Gatekeeper ;)