As the single parent to two boys on the Autism Spectrum I am always brainstorming new ideas on how to make sure everything goes smoothly in my household. There is no one but myself who knows what steps need to be taken to care for Nicholas and Matthew.
I decided I should really sit down and write out a summary of what a day consists of - from waking up to going to sleep. Because we live in Los Angeles we are earthquake ready with three suitcases in the house and emergency supplies stored in the Minivan. All the emergency supplies are perged for expiration dates on health and food items. I also place clothing for all seasons since I have no idea when an emergency will strike.
The suitcases are in different spots, just in case there is a fire in one room or a flood in another and we cannot get access to that room, making emergency supplies available in two areas of the house. I have contemplated placing all supplies inside the minivan, but that extra baggage would require going through our gas more frequently since driving around with a heavy load contributes to more gas being used.
I have three filing cabinets in my house and areas in the bedroom that contain important documents. I also have important papers and photos inside the emergency suitcases. There is a cabinet in the bedroom with my photo albums, scrapbook and yearbooks from childhood. At the bottom of the closet is a large binder notebook for each child with all their therapy reports, assessments, IEPs and medical data.
The files inside one of the file cabinets has more data that has to be filed inside these notebooks, that are too full to include at this time. There are files on SSI, Medi-Cal, custody evaluation, my bankruptcy data, court orders, income tax, banking, rent, utilities and insurance files.
Another cabinet has all their artwork since preschool, awards and certificates, newsletters, reading material, school work samples and pecs cards and schedule boards. Then there is the medicine cabinet that has Matthew's medication and Nicholas's vitamins and melatonin.
The bulletin board has the medicine paper, school phone numbers and addresses and family member's phone numbers. The refrigerator has my beeper number and name listed, as well as the landlord's numbers and the emergency number for the Regional Center and poison control.
There is a foot locker with all the photos organized in the kitchen under the table. A copy of my bankruptcy order and the custody court order are inside a bread box for easy access on the kitchen table, copies are in the emergency suitcase.
There is a protector sheet with a safety checklist on one side and a parenting emergency information form on the other. These are filled out with my name, address, kids dates of birth, allergies, insurance carrier, insurance ID and phone numbers, medication currently taking, directions to house, directions to nearest Hospital, poison control number, where is fuse box, where are flashlights and batteries stored, first aid supplies can be found, escape routes, exit, carbon monoxide alarm, fire and burglar alarms.
I have an envelope stating emergency information with a note written by me with our names, birthdates and blood types. I have listed that Matthew is not toilet trained and where to find his meds, what foods they currently like, what toys and videos they like.
The road map to your household items should be easy to find, like on a bulletin board or refrigerator. This should be written for each child starting with what their typical day is like, what time they wake up, what they eat, when they get dressed and where their clothes are located, what time school starts and how they get there, etc.
This also ends with when they get home, what happens next, and nighttime routines, what they wear to bed, how the bed is prepared and the sleeping patterns of everyone.
Should something happen where you are out of commission, transitions will run smoother with this information readily available in case you are unable to communicate. Phone numbers of babysitters, respite workers, social workers, family members and friends would be listed here with their time zones also noted.
Try to take pictures and have these inside an envelope for emergency purposes so the children are identifiable, and showing them doing something enjoyable. List their therapies, what day of the week and time they are along with the address and phone number. Have this emergency data pin point where all the documents will be found relating to each child in the house, label the file cabinets and the folders so everthing is identified.
This is a New Year and great time to get prepared so that all the things that make your household run will still be accessible when you cannot be for whatever reason. Those family members and/or friends that are listed as emergency contacts for your children and perhaps in a will should have knowledge of what a day is like for the children and know where all important documents are in the house.
Years ago when my children were first diagnosed I sent reports to a friend and my family in New Jersey. This is a good idea so that in case of a fire, flood or earthquake your important documents are available elsewhere and those people can become familiar with the data reported.
SOS Survival Products is located in Van Nuys, California. They sell emergency flashers, light sticks, records kit, pop up shelters, tv fastening kits, velcro quake tape, classroom and teacher emergency kits, survival kits, fannypack survival kits and hand crank lights. The website is at www.sosproducts.com. I receive their catalog that contains 3,000 items. Check them out
If you are facing a disaster or want to plan ahead for an event, register your family at Autism Cares
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.
Prepare now - Essential items for the Family with an Autistic Child
Beat Boredom Blues by playing a game based on Autism Terminology
An Impression of autism from a kid on the spectrum
Choosing a Camp for a child with Autism