6 Ways To Make Your Home Windows Safer For Your Autistic Family Member
Life with a child on the autism spectrum requires a lot of changes, but some of them are easier to forget than others. Making your home safer for an autistic child means replacing potential dangers with safer options. Even if you've already blocked off the outlets and found locking stove knobs, don't forget to make these four changes to your windows too.
Install Window Locks and Alarms
The lure of the great outdoors leads many autistic children to slip away through a window or door and end up lost. Install keyed window locks on any portals you want to open for airing out the house on a regular basis. Stick to more permanent screw-in locks for as many windows as possible to keep them securely shut. If you're home around-the-clock with your child, you can try alarms instead of locks that set off a loud noise when the two sections of the window separate.
Cover Glass with Plexiglass
Are you worried that your child might break through the window to get out? Aside from damaging the window, your child could also hurt themselves by starting a new stimming habit that involves bumping their head on the glass. Protect the window and your family member by installing fracture-proof plexiglass over the window glass. Your options for covering the glass include:
- Mounting the cover on the wall around the window to create a gap so your child can't put pressure on the window through the material
- Replacing individual glass panes with pieces of trimmed plexiglass
- Cutting a sheet of material that fits tightly inside the window frame for a seamless look with less mounting work
Consider Fixed Windows
Sometimes even the toughest window locks aren't enough to prevent an untimely escape. If your child has figured out how to open the locks or disable alarms, consider swapping most or all of your normal windows with fixed models. These designs feature an anchored plate of glass instead of frames that slide or crank open. Check with local building codes first — many areas require homes to use opening windows so family members can escape in case of a fire. You may be able to get an exemption from these rules if you can prove it's a crucial safety feature for protecting your autistic child.
Choose Softer Frames
The metal and wood frames around glass panes can cause a lot of injury to the diligent tapping child. The simple change of choosing vinyl frames reduces accidents by providing your child with a softer place for rapping their knuckles or rubbing their forehead. Look for vinyl frames with smooth and rounded edges for a safer interior. Install padded bumpers around the sill and frame lip as well with screws instead of adhesives so the child can't remove your protective equipment.
Skip the Blinds
Curtains help block out the outside world when light and color cause too much stimulation. Unfortunately, long drapes and blinds draw attention and create safety risks for the autistic child. Light-blocking window films that cling directly to the glass offer the same effects with fewer risks.
Make a Seat
Does your child find peace and satisfaction by staring out the window? Build them a custom window seat, complete with plenty of seat and wall padding, to encourage this healthy behavior. Providing your child with their own personal place for enjoying the view can discourage other unwanted behaviors involving windows.
Try the simpler and less expensive methods for making your home windows safer before resorting to full replacement. However, keep in mind that you can get a new look for your home while creating a better indoor environment by ordering replacement windows with extra safety features like fixed frames and built-in keyed locks.
Contact companies like Beissel Window & Siding to see if they can assist you in these types of modifications.