Andrea, Barry and Chantel: They may not be your next-door neighbors right now, but they’re the first three names on the Atlantic tropical cyclones list this year. So, it may be inevitable that you will get to know them!
Hurricane season began June 1. There aren’t many hurricane seasons that pass by anymore without a major storm, so the first question today is: Are you prepared? The second question is: Are you prepared to have the smoothest possible experience during a storm as you care your child with disabilities?
Now is the time to talk with your children about hurricanes and storms that occur during this time of year. Emphasize that safety is the priority, use age-appropriate language and address their fears and concerns at the get-go.
When you’re ready to start preparing, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) offers several tips for caregivers who play in important role in hurricane preparedness for those with disabilities:
Children on the autism spectrum may have additional needs that should be addressed to successfully navigate severe weather. You can help your child adjust to new surroundings and ease their stress by doing the following:
Remember the usual disaster-supply kit items too. Don’t underestimate the value of an emergency kit that includes items every family should have on hand, such batteries, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, food and hygiene items. Can the kit be easily loaded and transported in your car, with room enough for the family to ride too?
A simplified “go-to bag” for your child is another smart idea. Include in it your child’s basic hygiene items, a few changes of clothes, books, games and any necessary medications. As a matter of fact, it’s a great idea for any member of the family! Make one for each family member and include them in the kit.
Experts have additional ideas to invite calm into these stormy situations:
When the storm has passed and you’re back home safely, keep an eye on your child and watch for any concerning changes in behavior, or sleeping or eating habits. Residual anxiety can last a while after the hurricane has passed; seek professional help if you’re concerned about post-traumatic stress.
Click on the source links below for more details and tips, and as always, consult your Easterseals Northeast Central Florida team members if they can be of service as you prepare. Easterseals is here to support you.
Remember, as Richard Cushing once said, “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” Together, we can be prepared for storm season and help our children have the calmest and most secure experience possible.
Sources: Lovethatmax.com, hurricanepreparednesstips.com, fema.gov, savethechildren.org, nhc.noaa.gov