Raising kids who on are the autism spectrum, have speech delays and are nonverbal, or have severe learning and/or developmental disabilities can be a challenge. As parents, we constantly worry about their safety. Will they wander? Will they hurt themselves if we get distracted? Is my child safe at school? We need products, services, and tools that can provide safety for a child on the autism spectrum.
Unfortunately, we can’t be with our children 24/7, but with today’s technology, we can invest in devices that make their lives – and ours – much easier and keep them safer. Most apps for kids on the spectrum focus on coping skills, academics, or communication. I suppose most think a child can handle and will have a smartphone.
But what if …
- Your child is too little to understand safety?
- You are raising a child with a disability who may likely never understand the concept of “danger”?
- Your child is easily distracted and wanders?
- Your child is in a new school or other atmosphere and you’re uncertain that he or she will be safe?
Well, some great new products have arrived and I’ve tested them out for you. These autism safety products are helpful for your child and can provide a measure of protection that will help you to sleep better at night. There are lots of options and plans are quite affordable. In fact, the cost for these devices runs from fairly to very affordable!
Well, some great new products have arrived and I’ve tested them out for you. Ready? Without further ado, here is the:
Autism Safety Products and Gift Roundup!
I’ve received these items from each of their manufacturers plus brief connectivity for review.
1. The Katana Safety Arc
If your child has a phone but struggles around danger, the Katana Safety Arc might be a great tool. This device attaches to your phone and is an alarm system should your child find herself in a scary situation. It has a high-pitched alarm and a silent alarm. For a modest fee ($12-$15 per month), you also get access to Katana’s 24/7 subscription-based response center. They can notify police and other help to aid you in your time of need.
Katana has several modes to assist you in an emergency:
- loud siren
- silent alarm button
- the response center that can talk you through what you need and alert local assistance to aid you
- a “safety circle” of 7 trusted people that your app and the response center can contact over a private line
- a wristband you can wear to sound the alert when you pull it away from the phone
- 2-year life battery
The Katana attaches to the back of your phone or phone case with a highly adhesive background. The great things about the Katana are:
- It’s super easy to set up, probably one of the simplest devices I’ve ever set up. They have all the video tutorials you’ll need, including how to rewind the wristband, which they clearly state may be tricky.
- It comes in a variety of attractive colors.
- It has a reusable adhesive back that you can use up to 5 times if you need to change devices.
- Response is FAST. I know this because I accidentally triggered it! Woops…
The one downside was that the adhesive was terribly difficult to remove and then I had to scrub glue off my phone case. If you use this, make sure it’s on the phone you want and please do attach it to a phone case rather than directly to your phone.
I recommend this product if you think you can teach your child to use the device only in emergencies so she doesn’t set off false alarms. It would be ideal for a more independent and older child, for example, if your 18-year-old is going to stay at on a college campus with a special needs program.
- The device: one-time fee of $99.00
$15/month for a month-to-month contract
$12/month if you pay for one year upfront
2. The Jiobit App
Obviously, one of the biggest safety concerns for parents raising a child on the autism spectrum is called “elopement,” when your child wanders away without supervision. This can happen to anyone, despite the measures you take. It happened to us even with doors we thought were secured. Blink, go to the bathroom or fall sleep and a child can literally VANISH.
But the Jiobit is designed to tackle this problem. This small tracking device is designed to attach to their clothing. The app itself is pretty cool, too. You will see your child’s location in real time, just like when you’re calling up a service like Uber. You can ring your Jiobit (also useful if when you misplace it!), see if it’s connected, and see the battery life left on the device. You can also set the range for the alert. When your child is wearing the Jiobit and steps out of that range you will be alerted. Always test first in new locations, to make sure your Bluetooth signal is strong.
It’s a little tricky to snap the clip in and out but doable. The booklet has a bunch of different ways you can attach the device to your child’s clothing – ponytail, shoe, shirt. It also comes with a silicone wrapper to cushion your child from the hard plastic. The charger dock hooks right up to your computer and is small enough not to take up too much space.
- OPTION 1: $89.99 + $8.99 a month for service with a 2-year commitment
- OPTION 2: $139.99 + $8.99 no contract
- Monthly subscription for any additional devices is $3.99
If you need a way to get in touch with your children but you are worried your kids will spend a lot of time using data or using apps, then Relay, the screen-free smartphone, might be for you. Think of this like a walkie-talkie device “with the range of a cell phone.”
This is an awesome way to check in with your child at school or to offer a reassuring word when she’s at respite care or with your babysitter. I had fun with this tool with Zoe..and she had fun repeating after me, LOL! Actually, I think this would be great fun for adults too.
You can also add channels to your Relay without charge. These channels include:
- Chat between private individuals or groups
- “Open Chat” allows families to extend their networks to connect and talk to approved friends and family who also have Relays.
- Music player. You can create your own playlist
- Translate into a foreign language (my daughter loves this one!)
- Echo chamber effect
- Additional channels are coming, like Joke of the Day
From the device, you can then change channels, add music and more. There are complete directions on how to do this on the website.
I did have some difficulty setting this up, however, that gave me a chance to contact customer service through the app. A live person responded to me well within the 20-minute window and walked me through what I needed. After that, it was easy!
It’s important to note that Relay is NOT a cell phone. It’s a 2-way (or more) system just for those on the account.
- Device: $49.99 per Relay device
- Service: Just lowered to $9.99 per month!
I have to say this is extremely affordable and the device not only lets you track your child’s location, but you can have fun doing it!
Learn more from this video:
These are some excellent autism safety products that you can buy OR buy them for a parent raising a child on the spectrum!