Door Security for Autistic Children

By Christina Schnell
Even door locks can be no match for your autistic child.
Even door locks can be no match for your autistic child.

Door security is important for any young child, but for children with autism, the safety risk of an unsecured door can continue well past the preschool stage. Certain behavioral traits among children with autism, such as the tendency to wander, called eloping, and repeatedly opening and closing doors, are just two examples of potentially dangerous behaviors involving doors, according to the Austim Society. Installing safety devices on all doors can help prevent a variety of unfortunate accidents, from wandering right out the front door to slamming fingers in its crevices.

Exterior Door Locks

Doors to the exterior, even just to your backyard, should always be secured with multiple locks. A simple knob-lock or lever-lock may be fine for a young toddler, but an older child with autism may figure out how to manipulate the buttons. For this reason, it's a good idea to install a sturdy deadbolt in the middle and very top of the door, where your child can't reach it even if he's standing on a chair.

Interior Door Locks

No child should ever be able to lock himself in his bathroom or his bedroom, and as your autistic child grows older, this may go from accidentally pressing the push-button lock to possibly intentionally locking himself inside during a tantrum. All interior doors in your home with locks should have pin-release holes or no lock at all, as you don't want him locking another, smaller child in any room.

Pinch Guards

The love of predictable repetition makes opening and closing doors particularly appealing to children with autism, according to the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation. And it doesn't take much for a small finger, either his or someone else's, to get slammed in the process. Pinch guards are foam clips that attach around the edges of doors. They prevent a door from closing completely flush, no matter how hard it's slammed. Attach the pinch guards high up on the door so your child can't pull them off.

Alarms

Even the most careful monitoring and diligent child-proofing may still allow your autistic child to open a door he shouldn't. Door alarms alert you whenever a door is opened, even for a second, with a chime or announcement. This feature comes with some home-security systems, but otherwise, you'll need to purchase a separate device or system. The alarm should be loud enough so you can hear it anywhere in the home.

About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.