How To Safety Proof A Home For An Autistic Child?


What is safe for a neurotypical child of a certain age might not be as safe or accessible for someone with autism. 

So, instead of focusing on age-based safety as we normally do, safety proofing of a home or any other area that a child with autism access should be tailored to their specific needs. It is not that a child with autism does not meet developmental milestones; however, these milestones are very different, and the pace of meeting them is also very different. 

Understanding The Needs Of An Autistic Child

Each experience concerning autism spectrum disorder is unique. Working upon this, DSM V classifies ASD as a condition that includes three central behaviors. These behaviors also manifest as three central needs: 

  • Communication: The child requires a safe environment where their unique ways of communication can be accepted and appreciated.
  • Social Interaction: An environment that requires too much social interaction can cause a great deal of distress to the child. 
  • Repetitive Behavior: Children with autism need a safe environment in which they can perform repetitive bodily behaviors and strict routines without hurting themselves. 

A child with autism has different sensory perceptions compared with neurotypicals.

Further, children with autism can have a very high pain tolerance and may not understand they are getting hurt. Even if they do understand feeling distressed, they might not be able to communicate it.

Key Statistics

1. Prevalence of Autism:

According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 36 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as of 2020.

2. Accidental Injuries:

Children with autism are 40% more likely to experience accidental injuries than their neurotypical peers due to their unique behaviors and sensory processing issues.

3. Elopement (Wandering):

Nearly half (49%) of children with ASD attempt to wander or elope from safe environments, which is significantly higher compared to their neurotypical peers.

Of those who wander, 24% are in immediate danger of drowning, and 65% are in danger of traffic injury.

4. Communication Challenges:

Around 25% to 30% of children with autism are minimally verbal, meaning they may not use speech as their primary means of communication.

5. Sensory Processing Issues:

Up to 80% of individuals with autism have sensory processing difficulties, making it crucial to consider sensory-friendly modifications in the home.

6. Use of Technology:

A survey indicated that 78% of parents of children with autism reported using technology (such as tablets and smartphones) as a communication aid for their child.

7. Emergency Preparedness:

Families of children with autism are 3 times more likely to call emergency services due to a behavioral or emotional crisis compared to families of neurotypical children.

General Safety Tips For All Areas Of the Home

Modern society has finally developed an uplifting understanding of ‘disability’. Simply put, it is not our capacity that causes a disability but rather the lack of environmental facilities that can cater to our special needs. 

So, by turning your home environment into a facilitating space, you can help a child with autism reach their full potential and lead a relatively comfortable life.

Some general safety tips to note include:

  • Identify specific hazards your child is experiencing, and remember that these will change as your child grows older 
  • Build fences and gates around your property so that the child does not go outside unprepared
  • Switch regular equipment that is hard and sharp with child-safe, autism-safe alternatives 
  • Install appropriate security cameras so that you can monitor your child’s activity from afar
  • Create visual boundaries like colored tapes to help your child understand unacceptable behavior.

Room-by-Room Safety Measures

Some common ways to make each part of your house accessible to your child are given below:

Room-by-Room Safety Measures

A. Living Room

  • Add adequate sensory stimulation that the child can enjoy 
  • Create a safe space for the child away from the general seating area (so that they are not overwhelmed)
  • Put rubber bumpers on the sharp edges of furniture 
  • Make sure all furniture is mounted on the walls
  • Lock doors and windows and set up autism-friendly alarm systems 
  • Cover electrical outlets and hide appliance wires

B. Kitchen

  • Keep items like medications, cleaning solutions, lighters, matches, ovens, stoves etc out of reach
  • Lock away any sharp objects like needles, knives, rulers, etc
  • Install a child-safe table away from the main dining area if your child does not like eating with others 
  • Always unplug appliances and store them separately after use 
  • Create a separate cabinet for sensory-comfort snacks – understand that your child might not like to share

C. Bedroom

  • Regular need items should be kept within reach – constantly communicating for the same things can be frustrating
  • Create clear subdivisions within the rooms to provide the child with more comfort
  • Keep high furniture with hard edges away from the child
  • Use gates on the top and bottom of the stairs
  • Make sure the child’s room is filled with sensory-stimulating toys, textures and welcoming decor

D. Bathroom 

  • Switch to noiseless faucets and comfortable seat textures 
  • Install motion-sensitive taps and showerheads so the child does not have to touch the fixtures
  • Keep the bathroom clean at all times, as the child might struggle with preoccupying thoughts of dampness and dirtiness 
  • Reduce the glare of strong lights and mirrors 
  • Add a geyser for temperature control

E. Outdoors

  • Provide the child with visual cues to prepare them for outside travel
  • Monitor the child for signs of bullying and social isolation in the friend’s group
  • Give the child a first aid kit with any specific allergy or anxiety medications and teach the child how to use it
  • When the child is traveling unsupervised, make sure they stick to familiar locations
  • Teach the child about environmental and social hazards without scaring them
  • Identify ‘safe zones’ throughout their travel route where the child can go and relax/wait in case they get overwhelmed

4. Addressing Sensory Needs

The child can have several sensory requirements involving touch, sound, sight, and smell. For example, they may request noise-cancelling headphones when out in the crowd. 

Children with autism typically need more space to move properly, so cramped areas should be avoided. They will require gloves to avoid touching others or public areas directly. Similarly, they may require tinted glasses to protect themselves from harsh lighting.

Last but not least, they will prefer keeping their body temperature constant and might want to wear hoodies even in summer.

5. Emergency Preparedness

As parents, we should have several emergency plans in place for any crisis episode that may occur. We should make it a point to phone 911 whenever needed. 

You can give your child a safety bracelet and conduct psychosensory sessions that teach them more about “stranger danger” and how to recognize pain or bullying. You can also give your child a card with your emergency contact number and label all personal items with their name and contact number. 

6. Technology and Safety

It is easy to customize your child’s phone to suit them. Make it super easy for them to contact you. Keep dangerous apps away from your child that may instigate impulsive or irritable behavior. 

You can try Picture Exchange Commission Systems (PECS), and alarm watches to communicate constantly with the child when they are outside.

7. Involving the Child in the Process

Most importantly, ask your child what they want. If they want to ride a specific vehicle or follow a specific route, try to accommodate them. 

If they don’t like a specific person, ask them why. Regularly take feedback about other tools and techniques that can make their life easier when they are outside of their home.


By child-proofing your house, you’re not only making your child’s life more comfortable but also allowing them to feel that they have the right to exist and change the environment to better suit their needs. 

A child who grows up in a safe environment has a better chance of developing a curious nature, higher self-esteem, and secure attachment. Over time, your child may also become increasingly interested in communicating, but if this does not happen, you must let them know that that is completely alright.

About Author

Jane Smith is a highly skilled writer specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). With a master's degree in psychology and hands-on experience, she adeptly translates complex ABA concepts into accessible content. Her articles, catering to professionals and enthusiasts alike, bridge the gap between theory and practice. Jane is a passionate advocate for evidence-based practices, using her writing to promote a broader understanding of ABA's impact on individuals and communities.

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