Summertime, Safety & Special Needs Children

 ‘Summer Vacation’– this brings a sense of excitement in most kids, but not all are celebrating. “No doubt it is the toughest time of the year for some of us” — and I completely understand your situation. But I am here to guide.

 To avoid seeing the best of your occasions turn into uncomfortable situations follow my tips which are a careful study on the inputs from special needs parents, medical professionals, and community organizations.

Experience this summer with your kids with a joyous difference; let the good time roll.

Is your Child hydrated and sufficiently cool?

# Heat is one factor that adversely affects children with special needs. Especially children who are neurologically impaired cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to high temperatures. They are easy victims of heatstroke and other serious heat-related conditions. Their bodies can respond differently. Precisely some medications and drugs can make their mouth dry; increase the sensitivity to the sun. Certain medications can even impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature or perspire. Therefore, it’s better they avoid outdoor activities during the heat of the day.

# To avoid and cut down heat reactions and exhaustion accommodate your children with air-conditioned bedroom, school buses, and classrooms. Also, heat can create a lot of nuisances and make it difficult for children with asthma or chronic lung diseases to breathe. During the summers, especially in the daytime, the air quality index can be poor, thus it is advisable to keep indoor and enjoy the fun inside. Time from 10 am to 4 pm being the hottest part of the day can be very taxing on your children’s health. Avoid any outdoor activity during that time instead plan creative and fun games inside.

# Hydrate your Children with adequate fluid. Always make your children drink fluids at least 30 minutes before going out. But please avoid drinks with caffeine or a lot of sugar. Include drinks that keep your child hydrated for a long time and take it at regular intervals of the day. Eat the right food and more frequently throughout the day. Make sure that your children’s meals are well-balanced, cool, and light. Avoid too much sugar or foods that have caffeine in them.

Is your child well-groomed for the sun?

# Beat the sun by applying sunscreen SPF 15 or higher at least 30 minutes prior to going outside. Re-apply at regular intervals or after swimming or sweating. Be sure to apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day. Feel the comfort and avoid the itching by wearing loose-fitting clothes. Light-colored clothes are best because they reflect the heat. Protect your heads with wide-brimmed hats.

# Keep your children away from surfaces that can burn sensitive skin, especially children with spina bifida. These children may get wounds on their feet, legs, buttocks or back in the hot summer. They can’t feel when they get a blister or sore, as they have low sensitivity to heat. Sitting in wheelchairs for long can also be damaging. The plastic covering of the cushions when gets heated up can cause excessive sweating, thus leading to dehydration and skin breakdown. The metal frames soon get heated up in direct sun which can burn skin.

Is your child well equipped near the water?

# Take every safety and precautionary measure into account and be prepared for it when there is water or pool in the near vicinity. Children should enjoy the water but with all the safety tools at hand.  Your child must wear well-fitting life jacket (typical or adaptive) whenever he or she is near a pool, lake, hot tub, or any open water.

Leaving your child alone even for a minute in or near water can be fatal. You should not leave children in wheelchairs alone parked near pools. Make a note of all pools, hot tubs at home and water sources around your home, make sure they have motion detectors, alarms, or safety locks in place. Pools should be fenced on all sides with fences at least four-foot-high. They should be non-climbable, with a self-closing, self-latching gate.

Be extra prepared if you plan on an extended outing. Take a cooler of ice and cold drinks, food, or formula. Carry all necessary medication or supplies you need to keep your child safe and comfortable. Here are some common symptoms of heatstroke you need to know.

  • High body temperature
  • Hot red /flushed dry skin with no sweat
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Strange behavior
  • Agitation 
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Despite all the precautions if you see any of these or other signs, get immediate medical help by calling a physician or 911. 

With the right accommodations, your children with special needs can usually do the same things as other children. You love your kids so much to find what’s appropriate for your children physically, emotionally and socially. Let’s make this summer fun with freedom, but keeping safety and health the top-notch priority. Let’s not be quick to judge our children’s activities and limit our children’s opportunities to try new things. Let’s keep our anxiety level in check while our kids try new things. Let them hone their individuality, to take risks and to relax.

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