This smart security system helps safeguard kids on the autism spectrum
The right security setup can make things easier for parents of kids with autism
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Most homeowners invest in a security system to keep intruders out of their home, but there’s a growing number of special needs families who install security systems for the opposite reason: to keep their children inside. My nine-year-old son has autism and requires constant monitoring, but as the mother of three, there are times when I just can’t keep my eyes directly on him. And those moments, as I’ve unfortunately learned, can range from expensive to outright dangerous when he gets into something, or worse, wanders away.
So when I heard that Vivint, a home security and smart home technology company, offers a system that helps special needs families keep their children safe, I was intrigued. Was there really a system that could watch my son when I couldn’t?
What is Vivint?
Vivint is what you get when you blend a home security monitoring company with advanced technology that allows you to easily secure, customize, and control a variety of your home’s features with just your fingertips. From security alarms to flood sensors, smart lighting and thermostat control, Vivint has it covered. Do you want your lights to turn on and your thermostat to adjust when your garage door is opened? Vivint can do that. Do you want someone to check on your family in the middle of the night if CO2 is detected? Vivint will. Do you want your doorbell camera to alert you when a package is delivered and then also whistle at anyone who approaches your package, to let them know that the camera is recording them? Vivint does.
I’ll be honest, just reading all of the things that Vivint can do felt a bit daunting at first. But, if Vivint can watch my son during the moments that I can’t and make my house function better for my family, then I wanted to see what it was all about.
Getting started was relatively easy, beginning with a phone call where I was asked to describe my family and our needs, listen to suggestions on how Vivint might work for us, and design a system that fit into my budget. Next, Vivint scheduled a professional install so that I didn’t have to do any of the work myself.
A week later, the technician showed up on time with a mask and shoe covers, and bearing a friendly demeanor. We walked through my house and made suggestions on where Vivint products should be placed for optimal usage, and then he got to work on the install. The process took several hours, and he walked me through downloading the Vivint app and teaching me how to use the technology before he left.
It's easy to use, even for a non-techie
When it came time to actually use the system, I was nervous that my lack of tech skills may pose a problem, but I was surprised to find that it was all really easy.
The system can be controlled from three different avenues: the Vivint touchscreen Smart Hub (a panel in your home), the Vivint app for mobile devices, or your computer. The home screen is broken down into the following six categories; each one allowing you to customize how Vivint works for your home:
Security: Secures and controls your house through window/door sensors, smart locks, motion sensors, glass break detectors, fire and CO2 detection, and flood sensors. All of these are monitored 24/7 by Vivint, and many can trigger automations throughout the system. For example, you can receive notifications when windows are opened, schedule garage door closing, remotely lock/unlock doors, and schedule security system arming/disarming.
Thermostat: Allows you to control the temperature of your house either via a schedule or by allowing your smart thermostat to learn your temperature preferences based on when you are home, sleeping, or away. You can also set parameters to alert you if the temperature goes above or below your set threshold.
Cameras: There are three types of cameras including a doorbell camera that will watch for a package and alert anyone approaching that it’s recording, outdoor mounted cameras that trigger notifications and warnings if someone enters your preset perimeter, and indoor cameras that can easily be moved from room to room; all with a DVR recording and playback option.
Devices: Interior features like lighting control can be customized to function hand-in-hand with another Vivint product, such as turning on when you unlock your front door.
Activity: Keeps a log of everything that was triggered in your home, for example the opening of a door or the triggering of a camera.
Car Guard: Tracks and monitors your vehicle for both engine issues, theft, and vehicle location tracking.
Vivint can also be linked with systems such as Google Home, Alexa, and Nest to enhance and expand the features you can control in your home. And although there are a ton of customizable options, it took me less than thirty minutes to set all my Vivint parameters, mainly due to how easy it is to navigate the app.
Once it was all functioning, I decided to begin testing the system while watching my son play in the backyard via our porch mounted camera. Using the app on my phone, the picture and sound quality were both very clear, and when he started to wander away, I was able to call him back using the two-way talk feature.
It felt empowering to give him a little space while still being right there, and I began to think the Vivint system might really work for me. It wasn’t long before Vivint naturally ingrained itself into our family. Receiving a notification that my son changed our thermostat from 72 to 85, I was able to change it back from my phone while I was upstairs folding laundry. Then when he opened the front door at 6 am while I was in the shower, I was immediately notified and able to stop his elopement. And for my own personal surprise test, I was sitting on my couch when the Vivint alarm went off and my phone rang. It was Vivint, letting me know that a water sensor was detecting water on the floor. When I ran upstairs, sure enough, my son was flooding his bathroom with tub water
Throughout the week I was surprised at how well Vivint worked for every member of our family; not just my special needs son. I watched our toddler’s new nanny through the playroom camera and I found myself turning off lights and locking my front door while still in bed. When I got distracted rushing to the store, I was notified that my garage door had been left open and was able to close it without needing to run home.
Is Vivint worth the price?
A Vivint system starts at $599 for a base package and then builds up from there with a la carte products that range from $35 to $399, which can be financed. There’s a $99 installation fee (often waived through promotions), and a $39 dollar monthly no-contract monitoring fee.
When you add that altogether, Vivint does come at a considerable cost and there are cheaper systems out there if basic security is what you are looking for. You could probably piece together similar systems with other security companies, but Vivint’s discounts and charitable contributions to help autism families make it worth considering. The impressive technology and product quality really do hit the mark, functioning as a virtual assistant for all the things we are constantly trying to remember, manage, and monitor. And thankfully for families like mine with children who have autism, Vivint Gives Back — the charitable arm of Vivint — offers up to a 50% discount. With all that considered, I would very highly recommend Vivint, with the caveat that it fits into your budget, and you are looking for whole-home technology. To me, that kind of security is priceless.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.