CARD-USF has partnered with Cox Media Group’s Tampa Bay radio station, Magic 94.9, for a Swim Safely Campaign. On air morning show personality, Danielle, will promote water safety strategies and resources for children and families for twelve weeks. The messaging for social media and radio spots will cover water safety, but with an emphasis on individuals on the autism spectrum. CARD-USF is excited for this opportunity to reach a broader audience and help promote the importance of water safety. Visit Magic 94.9’s website to learn more about the campaign.
The topic of safety is extremely important to us here at CARD as individuals with autism are more susceptible to danger particularly drowning. Drowning is one of the main causes of death for individuals with autism and the leading cause of death for all children ages 1-4 (CDC, 2019).
At this time, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of drownings has significantly increased during the the stay-at-home orders. Many factors can be attributed to this correlation which is discussed in further detail, along with recent statistics, in an article provided by SafeKids Worldwide, Safe States & YMCA.
CARD-USF works year round on water safety education and provides resources and tools to families and other organizations in the community. At the same time partnering with various agencies throughout our 14 counties, as well as, national organizations whose mission is to educate and empower caregivers. Thanks to donations to CARD’s Autism Services Fund, CARD has provided life jackets, swim lessons, and Josh the Otter materials to classrooms. CARD created Strategies for including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)and created a visual withWater Safety Rules. These strategies are designed to be utilized in collaboration with the Josh the Baby Otter book and Josh the OtterProgram/Presentation Guide.
Donations allow CARD to have the opportunity to help our community further by covering the cost of printing and distribution of our created materials along with our ASD and Water Safety brochure. These same funds also provideSafety Kits to families which include items such as door alarms, stop signs and various resources.
Here in Florida, water safety is important year round; however, having a designated month to really push the initiative is a great way to prep for the Summer ahead. Below we’ve created a quick video with some of our favorite tips to practice water safety.
It’s that time of year again, where the temperature and humidity rise so high you can’t go outside without sweating. And what better way to cool off than to take a nice dip in the water! Swimming is the go-to activity for Floridians in the summer, and whether at a pool or at the beach, it’s always a good time. But for children with autism, it can certainly present challenges that the parents may need to consider. We’ve got you covered here at CARD, with our most important tips for water safety.
Drowning is a serious concern for those with ASD and those concerns don’t seem to stop as the person gets older. Drowning can happen in an instant and in water as little as 2 inches deep. Parents, caregivers and anyone should be vigilant with children around water. If your family has a swimming pool, we suggest maintaining barriers around the perimeter of the pool, so that your child won’t be able to wander into it. Also, knowing CPR is always a positive in case of emergency.
It’s also important that children learn how to swim. If you’re an adult and you never learned, please consider doing so. There are many sites throughout CARD-USF’s 14 county service area that provide swimming lessons to individuals with special needs. That list can be found here. I’d also like to direct you to CARD-USF’s wonderful Water Safety brochure, which lays out many of the things I’ve discussed and so much more. If that’s not enough, the brochure has a long list of external resources you can check out on this topic.
Happy summer everyone! Stay cool and stay safe.
A great infographic from American Academy of Pediatrics
This past weekend we heard heartbreaking news that another child, a 5 year old boy with autism, wandered off and was found in a nearby canal. It is important that we work together, as a community, along with our local police departments, to ensure that our children are safe by taking necessary precautions. There are many resources out there regarding water safety, elopement and working with first responders.
CARD-USF launched safety kits last year for constituents within our 14 counties here in Florida. The kit contains vital information, door alarms and other components to help families secure their homes and be prepared in case of an emergency. You can visit our website’s safety page for more details about our kits and other resources regarding wandering, water safety and medical ID bracelets. There you can also view contact information for your local police department regarding Project Lifesaver.
Even though we are in the winter months swim lessons and teaching water safety is vital. Last June, we posted a blog regarding water safety and provided a list for local swim lessons within our 14 counties.
If you are in Florida we encourage you to reach out to your local CARD center for more information regarding autism and safety. We must learn from these tragic stories and work to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another family.
Safety is an important topic for the families CARD supports. As a result, we launched a campaign to address an array of safety concerns that an individual with an autism spectrum disorder may face. As a result of a generous donation to our USF Foundation Autism Services Fund, CARD purchased the supplies, created the materials and assembled a kit that is available to eligible individuals at no charge while supplies last.
CARD-USF’s Autism and Safety Kit is designed to provide individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families with tips, information, advice and resources to help those living with ASD stay out of harm’s way.
You may be eligible for a CARD-USF Safety Kit if you…
Have a diagnosis of ASD with supporting documentation
Have safety concerns around water, elopement, fire, and/or poisoning-the kit includes items that address those safety areas
Need assistance from CARD staff to teach safety skills
You will need to register with CARD-USF and provide documentation of an ASD diagnosis and live within our 14 county region. Please call 1-800-333-4530 to learn more about CARD’s Autism & Safety Kit. You can also visit our website for additional safety information and resources: http://card-usf.fmhi.usf.edu/resources/materials/safety.html
There are a number of swimming lessons and water safety education resources throughout the communities we serve through CARD-USF. They may or may not have expertise working with students with autism spectrum disorder. CARD-USF staff provide trainings upon request to various recreation programs, but even with our training, you need to make sure the instructors and programs you choose are right for your family. Please let us know if there are some terrific programs that worked well for your family so we can share the good news with other families. Here is a list of resources for all 14 counties we serve: swim lessons
Disclaimer: As a policy, CARD will not lend its name to the endorsement of any specific program, practice, or model that is offered for service to people with autism and related disabilities. However, the sharing of information and training opportunities are key functions of the CARD program.
In the US, drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death and disability among children (Monteiro, 2010). It has been shown that children with ASD are at an increased risk for this dangerous event (Shavelle, Strauss, & Pickett, 2001), and, unlike typically developing children, this risk persists even as the children get older (Scott, 2014). In response to this information and a number of drownings in their service area, we have launched our water safety initiative.
Our first step was to develop the Autism Spectrum Disorder & Water Safety brochure which includes information about this important issue as well as a number of drowning prevention strategies that both caregivers and professionals can take to help keep individuals with ASD safe. We are also partnering up with other organizations to help meet the water safety needs of the autism community. CARD-USF has provided free training to recreational staff at a few local YMCA’s and the Katelyn Foundation, which provides swimming lessons (http://www.katelynfoundation.org/). We also recently became a Pool Safely Campaign Safety Leader and are collaborating with the Hillsborough Water Safety Team and SafeKids Tampa Bay.
CARD has developed the new Autism Spectrum Disorder and Water Safety brochure! It is critical that families take precaution when in or around swimming pools or other bodies of water. Tragically, during this time a year there is a significant increase in drownings.
Other links regarding pool safety:
To order Pool Safely printed materials (in English and Spanish)