Promoting Safety and Communication at Home

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Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with multiple years' hands-on experience developing and implementing behavior change programs.

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Promoting Safety and Communication at Home for Adults with Low-Functioning Autism

Haden Hunt.

Hey, guys, it’s Haden with Autism Labs. And today I interviewed Kay Carr, who is Michael’s mom, and we talked a little bit about promoting independence and communication for Michael. And we also talked about out how free access to electronics and to food and water and to his leisure activities can also lead to some challenging behaviors that don’t actually promote his independence and his communication.

So here’s Kay talking about what that leads to and what it looks like to provide a program-friendly way to restrict these things.

Why does Michael need restricted access to certain spaces and resources?

Kay Carr.

Well, even when he’s supervised, he needs a little bit of this because… several reasons: one, he perseverates on things. So if he gets in his head that he wants a puzzle, or he wants something in the kitchen—mostly food, sometimes water—he will excessively attempt to access it, over and over and over again, and it helps break that cycle so that that distraction is eliminated, because that becomes a terrible distraction and he’s just revisiting the same thing over and over.

Some of the reasons are safety reasons. We’ve got to be sure that he’s safe. So that’s a second big reason.

The other thing is the eloping. If the back door is open, and somebody drives up the driveway, he loves to go run out and greet the car. He also will go down and visit the garbage truck or whatever’s in the alley. So there’s all kinds of problems with that. It’s those sorts of things.

Tell us about the access restrictions in the kitchen.

Kay Carr.

The kitchen is restricted access because Michael will help himself to the water and the food all day long if given the option.

We’ve locked the refrigerator because he eats in the kitchen and he will get up during a meal and try to access other items that are in the refrigerator.

We have a lock on the oven because I’ve been in there when the oven was on 500 degrees before and he just accidentally bumped it. All those flat panel displays have their issues.

Then we’ve got the lock to the pantry. It’s a full walk-in pantry and he has many snack selections in there. And he always wants a snack. So that’s just a simple control access point for that.

Then on the way out of the kitchen, we have a key lock on the kitchen door so that he cannot escape. Once he’s all settled for a meal and he’s sitting down and eating, or more likely he’s doing the dishes, he sometimes tries to elope. And so the idea there is he needs to request the access to whatever it is and be granted it rather than just running out the room. So the key lock prevents him from just running out of the kitchen whenever he feels like it.

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