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Parents/Caregivers of Children with Autism Encouraged to Take Special Precautions

For Immediate Release  Contact:  Ernest Landante, Jr.
June 21, 2017 609-888-7915


TRENTON – There are few things kids enjoy more on hot summer days than cooling off in the pool, lake, river, or ocean.  The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) reminds adults to keep children safe in or near water.  Along with the New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, DCF encourages adults to take steps to ensure this summer is a safe summer:

  • Never leave children swimming unattended.  Drowning can occur in an inch or two of water.
  • Stay within an arm's length of small children in water to protect against rapid drowning.
  • Warn children to never swim at a pool or beach alone or without a lifeguard.
  • Train children to swim at an early age.
  • Teach children that swimming in a pool is far different than swimming in open water.
  • Be certain only qualified and undistracted adults are entrusted with supervising children in water.
  • Always empty inflatable pools, buckets, pails, and bathtubs after use.
  • Personal floatation devices do not guarantee water safety.

"Under no circumstances should any child be left unsupervised around water," said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.  "Parents with special needs children must be especially vigilant.  It just takes a moment's distraction and very shallow water for a child to drown.  By following some simple tips, summer can be fun and safe for everyone."

Drowning poses a greater risk for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, who may have underdeveloped motor skills and tend to be drawn to water.

Autism Speaks recommends parents and caregivers of children with autism teach their child water safety at an early age, enroll the child in swimming lessons, and emphasize the dangers of water.

Because individuals with autism tend to wander and be attracted to water, pools should be gated and inaccessible.  Parents and caregivers should install window and door alarms on their home and never leave their child unaccompanied or out of sight near water.

Autism New Jersey’s water safety suggestions are available at

Autism Speaks provides a Neighbor Alert Letter and Autism Elopement Alert Form parents and caregivers can use to inform neighbors and first responders that their child tends to wander and be attracted to water.  Notifying neighbors and first responders enables them to be alert to situations where an individual with autism may be in danger.  The letter may be downloaded at and the elopement form may be downloaded at

Additional safety resources are available in Autism New Jersey’s, Elopement and Wandering: Your Guide to Safety Resources publication, which can be downloaded at

DCF’s water safety video is available at

DCF is dedicated to ensuring a better today and an even greater tomorrow for every individual the department serves. In partnership with New Jersey's communities, DCF ensures the safety, well-being, and success of New Jersey's children and families.  DCF funds and directly provides services and support to over 100,000 women, children, and families each month.