7 safety products that help kids with special needs
These gadgets grant the gift of peace of mind.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
When my son was first diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and epilepsy, I was terrified. Not only were there added medical, developmental, and emotional needs to worry about, but it quickly became clear to me that there were many additional safety concerns. In an effort to keep him safe, we installed an expensive security system in our home and put bolts and locks on all the doors—before I knew it, it felt like we were living in prison.
Today there are 9.4 million children with special needs living in the U.S., and thankfully there are companies who have realized that these families need help keeping their kids safe. My son is 9 years old now and although I still have to keep a very watchful eye on him, these are the seven products that I’ve found most helpful.
1. Home monitoring that doesn’t require a monthly service fee
For every skill that a special needs child may struggle with, their talent for escaping is top notch. And that’s why it’s really important to know if your kiddo is leaving your house during the few minutes you take your eyes off them. Stitch by Monoprice Wireless Smart Door and Window Sensor solves that problem by immediately alerting you if any of your doors or windows are opened, without the hefty monthly price tag of a home security system.
Easy to mount with the included 3M tape—or screws if you prefer—Stitch sensors are connected to a free downloadable app, and also compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Offering 24/7 monitoring, instant alerts, and a tamper warning, Stitch keeps your kids inside, even when you aren’t looking.
2. A device that keeps kids in their seats so your eyes stay on the road
The difficulty of keeping a special needs child buckled safely into their seat in the car can extend well beyond the years they outgrow their car seat and booster, which is why the BuckleRoo is such a neat product. Created especially for kids with behavioral and/or cognitive disabilities, the BuckleRoo prevents kids from being able to press the seat belt release button and unbuckle their belt at an inappropriate time.
Made from shatterproof plastic and super easy to use, the BuckleRoo fits directly over the seat belt receptacle, allowing the belt to be unbuckled only by slipping a car key into the release latch, or using the attached emergency breakaway key.
3. A temporary tattoo that brings lost kids home
The thought of nonverbal kids wandering away can be terrifying, but safety ID tags are often impractical since they can cause sensory overload or can be removed by a child. That is exactly why I absolutely love the ingenuity of Safety Tat, “The tat that brings kids back.” Safety Tat is a temporary peel-and-stick tattoo with room for parents to write their contact information; it is then applied to a child in a noticeable place such as the forearm.
Visible on all skin tones and sold in a variety of designs ranging from princess to ninja, each tattoo lasts up to two weeks. They are also water-resistant; non-toxic; hypoallergenic; and latex-, nut-, soy-, and gluten-free.
4. A seat belt cover to assist in a vehicle emergency
Not being able to assist your child in the event of an emergency is every parent’s worst nightmare, especially if your child is unable to offer much assistance themselves. Help Belts understood this when they created a seat belt cover that displays the critical information that rescuers need to know in the event of an emergency, such as “Autism. Do Not Leave Unattended. May Not Respond To Verbal Commands."
Offering a large variety of wording for many disabilities and health conditions, or fully customizable with your own wording, each belt cover also directs rescuers to look inside for other relevant health information, written on a card you fill out yourself. Made of flame-retardant material and installed easily with a few snaps, Help Belts are available in five different colors, two different sizes, and provide an extra layer of safety for your favorite people.
5. A door alarm that can travel with you
Don’t let the name of this product fool you—if you travel with a child of any age who tends to stray, then you need a Toddlermonitor. Taking the special needs community by storm, Toddlermonitor is a door alarm that works simply by hanging on a door handle and then alerting you through an app if the door is moved from the position it was in.
Available in three different colors, non-toxic, and with no small pieces to swallow, Toddlermonitor will still alert you per your customized pre-selected notification settings, even if your phone is on silent. And since there’s nothing to physically install, Toddlermonitor is easy to pack for a weekend away or an afternoon nap at Grandma’s.
6. A vest that keeps your child close in a crowd
Bolting off in a crowd is a real safety hazard for a lot of special needs kids, but using a stroller or a leash on an older child is often accompanied by judgmental glares from strangers who don’t understand. The Autism Medical Alert Safety Pressure Vest with GPS tracking solves both of those problems, plus a few more.
Weighted to provide calming sensory stimulation for a child who may feel anxious in crowds, the vest displays bold wording that alerts people to the fact that the child wearing the vest has a disability. With an added leash attached to the back of the vest so you can keep your child close, it also features a basic GPS tracker that connects to your phone and doesn’t require a monthly subscription.
7. A door lock that sits out of sight and reach
Door alarms are great, but if your kiddo is fast, preventing them from even being able to open the door may be necessary. The Guardian Lock is a great option to keep doors shut and has long been used by the autism community to keep kids safe inside their homes. Pulled the pin downward to open the door and it springs back into place when the door is shut. And since it is easily installed at the very top of a door with 3M tape, it is out of sight and reach for most curious kids.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.