With the anxiety and hyperarousal seen in children with Fragile X syndrome, it is important to plan for emergency events at your child’s school – a fire in the building and severe weather events, such as a tornado, a hurricane, a local fire, a chemical spill, etc. Lockdowns are discussed separately.
If at all possible, develop a plan ahead of time, preferably at your child’s IEP meeting. If that is not possible, ask for a meeting to discuss this first thing of the school year.
The emergency events – the drill. Decide what will be best for our child.
- Do you want him or her to know ahead of time and be moved to an outside location before the alarm goes off?
- Do you want your child in the building, but warned ahead of time that the alarm is going to go off?
- Do you want your child to experience it like other children?
A real event. How will your child react if there is a real event?
If it is a fire in the building, much of it will depend on where the fire is in the building, but think about what your child will need if this happens.
- What kind of support may or will your child need to get out of the building?
- Will your child have to have to be physically removed, because he may panic?
- Will the fire fighters have to come in and get him?
NOTE: Your local fire station/department should be made aware that there are students in the building, who may require additional support during a fire. If there is a self-contained classroom, the fire fighters should be made aware of its location, knowing that some of the children may be in other rooms in the building.
A practice lockdown. What is best for your child in this situation?
- Do you want him or her to know ahead of time and be moved to the designated location?
- How are teachers notified that a lockdown is happening – for practice and if it is real? Is there an alarm or is there a notice that comes over the intercom system?
- What kind of room is going to best for your child?
- How many children will be in the room? Do you have to worry about the behavior of the other children?
- Will the children have to be quiet?
- How many adults will be there?
- Will the lights be turned out? What will be the source of light?
- What kind of calming activities are planned?
- Do you want your child to be warned ahead of time, but not have to move until the notice is given?
- Do you want your child to experience it like other children, i.e. no warning?
A real lockdown. What will happen if it is the real thing?
- How could the real event vary from the practice?
- What if the children are in a different area of the school than what was practiced?
- How can you get supports to a different area of the school than what was practiced?
- Give some thought to addressing emotions during a time like this.
These types of events can be very difficult for our children. They can be frightening, and one bad experience can take years to undo. Put some thought and planning into the supports for your child, and he/she will make it through the event. It will work.