Community safety skills, such as crossing the road and reading traffic signals are essential for any child to become independent and autonomous. It is imperative that these skills are learned as those who are unaware put themselves and others at risk for harm and injury. Learning community safety skills will empower children to be independent and to have greater interactions with their community. Here are some useful tips on how to introduce and teach community safety skills to children who are ready to explore their communities.
1. Introduce a routine for crossing the road.
Children with ASD often like to follow routines and schedules as they provide predictable and patterned events. To form a routine, start by breaking down the process into small steps. For crossing the road, the steps can be as follows:
Step 1: Stop your body and wait
Step 2: Look left and right for moving cars
Step 3: Listen for any approaching cars
Step 4: Think! If there are no cars, then you can cross the road
If your child is a visual learner, you can implement a visual aide to help them understand the steps better. Here’s an example:
2. Verbalize the steps when crossing the street together.
Subsequently, when you are crossing the street together you can name the steps while modelling them in a real-world setting. This will help the child understand the actions listed in the routine. You may want to signal the beginning of the routine with a phrase, such as “let’s cross the road safely.” Following this, you can proceed with the steps of the routine. Upon finishing the routine, you can praise your child for crossing the road safely!
3. Practice the steps with toys and figurines.
Incorporating this routine into play time allows you to test their understanding in a safe environment. You can use toys and figurines to simulate crossing the road and traffic. This can be a fun way for your child to independently demonstrate their knowledge of the routine!
4. Craft your own traffic light with your child and use it for practice.
To teach your child how to understand traffic signals, you can create your own traffic light. Activities like this can be more engaging for children, especially if they enjoy arts and crafts! Using your very own traffic light, you can play the ‘traffic light’ game. Explain to your child the meaning of each color as you point (e.g., red means stop, amber means to go slowly, and green means to go). Then you can ask them to walk across a room or hallway to test their understanding of the traffic light signals. Here’s an example of a traffic light craft that you can do at home: Making A Paper Traffic Light
With practice, your child can acquire community safety skills too. Utilizing a routine can help your child learn how to cross the road safely. There are many fun ways you can practice community safety skills at home in a safe way. All it takes is a little time and practice!
Written by Aileen.