Drowning Is Leading Cause of Death among Autistic Children, Study


Drowning is the leading cause of death among children suffering from Autism, according to a new study by the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Researchers said that since Autistic children get overstimulated with crowds, they escape to unsafe environments.

"Among the plethora of concerns for families dealing with autism, includes addressing water safety practices as early as possible in a child's life," Varleisha Gibbs, OTD, OTR/L, occupational therapy professor, said in a press release. "Although water safety is a concern for all parents, children with autism are especially at a higher risk for drowning because they may seek isolation by fleeing to unfamiliar territories."

According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning was responsible for approximately 91 percent of the total deaths in the U.S. reported in children with autism aged 14 years and younger due to wandering/desertion from 2009 to 2011. Plus, nearly 50 percent of autistic children escape a safe environment. The figure is four times higher than non-autistic children.

Gibbs recommends parents to enrol their children in swimming and water safety lessons as early as possible; make them aware of water safety measures and consequences of poor safety practises and to those who fail to respond to visual cues, place STOP or DO NOT ENTER signs.

The researcher also said that children should be equipped with details regarding his/her name, house address and phone number. Parents can also load these information in the form of a chain or bracelet. He also suggests families to regularly update their neighbors about their child's condition. Plus, before departing to a location, children should be made to understand about the new environment - whether it is a beach, pool, or a restaurant.

Gibbs said that swimming and aquatic therapy plays a beneficial role in autistic children as it addresses many of their body's sensory and motor needs. By following the above mentioned safety measures, families can spend their vacations less stressful and more enjoyable.

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