Security Alert... FASD Style

(An Alarming Situation)

2003-2006 Teresa Kellerman

Security is an issue in many families raising children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).  Most children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) need close supervision at all times.  A small percentage do not need to be monitored very closely and only need minimal supports.  A majority need closer supervision than they would if they did not have any disabilities.  And a percentage will require very close supervision that is beyond what a human being can reasonably provide in a family setting.

Security is especially an issue for two groups of affected individuals:  Those who may be sneaking out of the house to engage in risky behavior at night time (sexual behavior, substance abuse, etc.).  They lack control over their impulses, have very poor judgment, and are naively vulnerable to the suggestions of their peers.  The other group that is at high risk and in need of extra security measures are those who have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or  Bipolar disorder or some other mental health issues that prevent them from having control over their behavior.  These children may engage in behavior that places themselves or others at risk.  Some children need to have knives and scissors locked up.  Some families need to restrict access to food.  Some parents need to monitor their children's behavior in the middle of the night.  For whatever reason, there are many families who want to know how can they possibly provide 24/7 without giving up sleep and trips to the bathroom.

I'll never forget my horror at discovering my daughter's repeated attempts to go shopping in the middle of the night by climbing out of her bedroom window.  She would manage somehow to get $10 or $20 and would hide it in the inner sole of her shoe.  Then she would wait until 2 in the morning to walk to the 24-hr. supermarket over a mile away to get all the sweets and goodies her money could buy.  The weight gain would be serious enough.  But I was truly concerned for her safety, as she was a trim 110-lb. teenager with long blonde hair.  Oh!  I still shudder to think about it.

The easiest way to monitor children's behavior is with alarms.  There are several types, and many are not expensive at all.  Here are some links to products available online:

Radio Shack:  Click on "Security and Home Automation" on the left, and click on "Personal Security."  There are 17 products in the "Personal Wireless" section.  Some families may also want to check out the section on Surveillance for monitoring products as well. Here's what one parent told me: "I bought motion sensor alarms from Radio Shack. They can be wall mounted, but I put them in the hall or in front of a kid's room or wherever I need it. They can turn on and off by a remote (sort of like the remotes for opening car doors). However, if I accidentally put it down, then a kid will find and hide it, so I just punch in the code on the alarm itself. I want a commission from Radio Shack because other parents have used it on my advice. I have one in the hall at night which means that any time a kid gets up to go to the bathroom or get a drink, mommy gets up also."

The Alzheimer's Store:  Click on "Safety" for a listing of 22 products, including a car battery disconnector and faucet adapters to prevent bathroom flooding.  They also have an 800 number you can call to discuss what type of alarm might best suit your needs.  One parent's favorite alarm is the Motion Detector and Remote Alarm (Product #0025) where both the alarm and the receiver can be moved, and they operate on battery power.

Baby Universe:  Click on "Safety" on the left to find products for homes with younger children, like a toilet lock for $5.99, or a Listen N Talk Monitor for $59.  Actually, the baby monitors can be used for older children too.  I have one from Fisher-Price that I still use from time to time.

Clean Sweep:  Get a 160-degree mirror to keep an eye on what is going on behind you.  If you want to have "eyes in the back of your head" while you are on the computer, get the portable clip-on mirror - very inexpensive.

AV Tech:  Find hi-tech equipment here, like a wireless night-vision camera system that can monitor several rooms.  It's on sale right now, 50% off.  Click on the "Baby Monitor" link.

Safety and Security Center:  They have a tracker watch that can help to locate a runaway child. 

Micro Tech:  You can purchase a tracker device to track a runaway child.  The transmitter is small and could be attached to a shoe or cap or backpack.  Very expensive, but I know families who have resorted to a wrist device that the child cannot remove, used by court order as part of probation, to help parents keep the child safe from his own lack of control and poor judgment.

BrickHouse Security: Another good tracking device.  These folks work with families of children with FASD and other disabilities.  They also have wireless alarm systems:

CareTrak:  Another tracking device.  This one has been featured on television shows and is recommended by a parent who bought one to keep her son with FASD safe.

Maybe you won't ever need a tracker, but a $20 motion detector can be a life saver for the child who climbs out of the window in the middle of the night.  If you are feeling guilty about this, know that you are not alone, you are not a terrible parent, you just want to keep your child safe.  The discomfort of installing alarms is minor compared to the discomfort of raising a grandchild or hiring a lawyer or going to a funeral.  The bottom line is Keep Your Child Safe.

New links to security resources:


Magnetic kitchen locks   


Double-sided keyless entry door lock to prevent your little one from getting out of the house 


Refrigerator lock (not for the side by side ones) 


Video monitoring systems 


Medic alert bracelets 

FAS Community Resource Center