Wandering and elopement behaviors can pose unique safety risks for children and adults on the autism spectrum. Luckily, there are many accessible tools to help keep these individuals safe. Below, Milestones Program Director Beth Thompson highlights some great tips and resources to utilize if your loved one is one of the many individuals with ASD who are prone to wandering.
Take advantage of free resources – The National Autism Association is currently accepting applications for their very popular, free Big Red Safety Box – the box includes 2 GE wireless door or window alarms with batteries, a Medicalert pendant, bracket or shoe tag, safety alert window clings for homes and cars and much more.
Our very own Northeast Ohio Connecting for Kids also has wandering safety kits for local families. There is no cost for their kit and families can be connected with parents near them that may be dealing with the same elopement issues.
Contact your local County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CBDD) – If your student, child or client is struggling with behaviors that may pose safety risks for them it’s important you notify the County Board of Developmental Disabilities that the individual is connected to. County Boards of DD can sometimes assist in schools, homes and in the community to develop behavioral plans that will help your loved one stay safe.
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Couldn’t come to the conference? No worries, we’ll fill you in. Four of Milestones’ own presented at the conference this year on a variety of topics:
Milestones Administrative Assistant and self-advocate Molly D. Dann, presented two workshops, one with the Cuyahoga County’s Good Life Ambassadors program where safety in the community was discussed, and another sensory-focused workshop with two other self-advocates wherein panelists shared their personal experiences coping with sensory issues.
Beth Thompson, Program Director, did a conversational session with Carl Brass, Executive Director of Monarch LifeWorks, on how to make ethical decisions when working with adults on the autism spectrum. They discussed when how federal rulings like the Olmstead Act impact providers when weighing decisions about protecting the adults they serve and letting them have their own autonomy in decision-making.
Milestones Early Intervention/School Age Coordinator Nathan Morgan did a total of three workshops! He started the conference out with a session sharing tips and suggestions for families to follow after receiving a new diagnosis of autism – Nathan reviewed common evidence-based therapies, how to access them, and how to work with school districts. Nathan then served as a moderator on the Straight from the Source: Autism at Work panel, where he led a discussion with four other adults with ASD about their path to employment. Nathan and Molly then closed the conference with another staff advocate and Milestones volunteer, Grace Blatt, where they shared their practical strategies for dealing with common sensory issues.
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First time attending the Milestones National Autism Conference? We’re so excited to have you! Get ready for two days full of new knowledge, resources and friends. With 90 workshops and over 1,000 people in attendance, we know it can get pretty crazy but don’t fret! With a simple combo of preparation and participation, we promise you will walk away having gotten the most out of your experience. Check out the following tips on how to nail your first Milestones conference.
1) Review the Parent Track ahead of time to see what workshops are most appealing to you! You can also call our free autism Helpdesk to talk with a staff member who can make suggestions based on your child’s age, stage and ability.
2) Take advantage of our discounted family member rate. Register early to receive our Spring Special rate! Also, remember Milestones has scholarships available for parents. The application process is simple and quick!
3) Visit the Caregiver Relaxation Room. Visit the Caregiver Relaxation Room, presented by Hickman & Lowder Co., LPA. This special room offers a calm and relaxing area just for parents and caregivers of individuals with autism. Well deserved!
4) Attend our amazing lunch sessions and walk away with a friend. Everyone around you at the conference has a connection to autism and is looking for the same supports as you. Use your time as a chance to network with peers and leave with new contacts in your community.
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Last month, over 100 first responders gathered at the La Casa Bella Party Center in Oakwood Village, OH, for a training about autism and how to interact with individuals with ASD. The training, led by Milestones Autism Resources Program Director Beth Thompson, allowed participants to learn how to handle common issues like eloping, sensory overload, and communication challenges. At least 40 local police departments were represented as well as firefighters, school security and special agents from the FBI.
“The autism community knows the danger of first responders not receiving the training they need to work with individuals on the autism spectrum,” said Thompson. “Milestones is proud to provide that education to our community of first responders.”
During the training, the crowd also heard from a panel of self-advocates and parents of individuals with ASD. Nathan Morgan, who joined the Milestones team in February as an Early Childhood & School Age Coordinator, was one of the panelists in attendance.
“As a social worker, it was enlightening to hear the diverse perspective of the officers,” said Morgan. “As an autism self-advocate, it was empowering to share my voice and perspectives to promote positive interactions between persons with autism, their loved ones, and the officers serving the community.”
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