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Prepping for Your Loved One with Autism: Basic Needs

• The Organic Prepper by By Jenny Jayne

I did not know they could change the predictions mid-hurricane season. Lesson learned.

Like a lot of people in the Deep South USA, I'm preparing my family for Grid Down due to potential hurricanes. There are lots of families in my area who prep for tropical storms, flooding, and hurricanes. However, my preps will look a bit different from the average preparedness kit.

The reason I may prep differently from the average prepper enthusiast is because I have children with special needs. My boys are two and seven years old and have Autism Spectrum Disorder. When I prepare for a disaster, I have to take their special and very specific needs into consideration. By writing this, I'm hoping to not only give a little bit of a fresh perspective on prepping in general but also some insight on how to prep for your loved ones if they happen to have special needs.

Here's a little information about autism.

First, I'd like to share a little bit about Autism and how it affects my children. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it's a start.

Autism is a "spectrum" disorder, meaning the Autism diagnosis looks different for each individual affected by it. The saying goes, "if you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism."

Physical Issues

Due to Autism, my 7-year-old child has gross motor limitations. This means that movement of his arms and legs is not always as coordinated as someone who is neurotypical (does not have an Autism diagnosis). It's harder for him to do basic everyday things such as walking any kinds of distances, running, and picking things up. The same kind of limitations and challenges apply to him for fine motor skills. This has to do more with things like writing or picking up and using smaller objects like forks.

Conceptual Issues

Both children have a limited concept of danger. This means that they do not understand that walking into a busy road might get them killed or that fire will burn if they touch it. They also elope, meaning that they can run away from caregivers and into dangerous situations and areas.

Communication Issues

They have limited verbal ability. This means that they are not able to communicate in the same way that neurotypical people can. It's very difficult for them to understand what they are feeling, be it pain or emotion. Then, it is even more difficult to express their feelings to an adult who can help them. Making their wants and needs known is a challenge every day. They use a combination of picture cards, spoken words, and sign language to communicate with us.

Sensory Issues

They have sensory processing disorder. This affects their ability to register and understand what they see, hear, and touch. They have trouble tolerating loud noise. This disorder also affects what they are able to comfortably eat.

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