How to put together a crisis plan for your child
A crisis plan is a written (printed) outline of information that helps you and others be ready if your child has a crisis or interacts with police. Crisis plans are very helpful, especially if your child wanders, has any aggressive behaviors or runs away.
Keep information in the plan specific and brief. It may be useful to include a script of what to say about your child if you must call the police. Keep copies of the plan in your cars, home and travel cases. You may also want to share your crisis plan with:
- Police departments in your neighborhood or other places you frequent
- School contacts
- Friends or family members
Practice your plan regularly with others in your family. It helps to problem-solve issues when you are not in crisis. Behaviors, triggers and important information can change, so keep the crisis plan updated as your child ages. Be sure to replace old copies that others may have, as well.
Your crisis plan needs to include:
- Your child’s name and age
- A recent picture
- A list of any medicines
- Your home address
- Important phone numbers and whether they might have a cell phone with them
- Details about their ability to respond in a crisis and possible triggers
- Whether your child carries ID or contact information
You may also want to include:
- Information about self-soothing behaviors (like pacing, rocking or humming) that your child is more likely to exhibit in stressful situations
- Information about behaviors that indicate your child is feeling increasing distress, such as covering their ears, stomping or loud vocalization
- Actions that are helpful (like talking in a calm voice, turning off sirens, not using touch) and actions that may make the situation worse (such as physical contact, loud voices, drawn weapons)
- Locations or people that your child tends to go to when they are upset
- When it may be useful or necessary to call the police
How to connect with local police
We understand that contacting and meeting with local law enforcement officers is not a good fit for all families. You can also ask your child’s school administrator, therapist or other supports for suggestions on how to help your child.
The more opportunities your child has to interact positively with the police, the better they’ll be able to handle an unexpected encounter. Visiting the police department and talking to officers helps your child feel less scared.
As your child grows up, their needs change. It can be useful to do a visit each year around your child’s birthday. This allows any new officers to get to know your child and have updated information.
It can be helpful to:
- Set up a visit to the police station: Call the non-emergency number or information line for your nearest police station. Ask if the department offers tours or other ways for your child to have positive interactions with police officers.
- Make a response plan: Children of color may have a higher chance of encountering police. You can call CIT officers or a community liaison at your local police department to create a response plan.
- Share your plan: Think about who else needs this information — such as your child’s school resource officers, sheriff’s officers or local security offices.
Support groups for families of color
Many organizations support families of color who have children with ASD, including: