Safety for children with special needs- “If I Need Help”

As a parent I worry a lot about safety for my children.  We wear bike helmets, practice looking before crossing the street, keep our stairs gated, and lock away anything harmful in our home.  But as a special needs parent, there are unique concerns related to safety. My daughter has delayed speech skills, forcing me to keep her very close on all outings for fear of losing her.  She is of an appropriate age and cognitive ability that I would normally let her explore a bit more and have increased freedom at parks and familiar community places, but I worry about her safety due to her lack of ability to ask for help if she got lost or hurt.
After many hours of internet research, I learned there is a lot of debate about providing safety for children, while also maintaining privacy and protecting against people who might prey on vulnerable children.  At this point, I am putting my trust in people who are trying to help my child in an emergency and decided to try products from this company:  If I Need Help

The company was started by parents of a child with autism and is a non-profit.  It has an online database that has access to information on your child (you choose what to put in, and the information can be updated any time it is needed in an emergency).  In an emergency, a person is directed to a website through a web address or a QR code to give them critical information, such as a parent’s cell phone number, that a child is non-verbal, or that a child has a major medical condition that needs care.If I Need Help 2

You can order a variety of tags for shoes, clothing, backpacks, etc.  It is simple, user friendly, and the information to include is under a parent’s control.  It is subtle enough to not make your child’s special needs overly visible, but also noticeable enough for a concerned staff or another parent to notice and look at if needed (or for emergency personnel to see).

If I Need Help 1Costs- products start at about $10.  We spent about $25 for one shoe tag for her main shoes and some pin-on tags for her coat and backpack on field trips.  See their products here.

The shoe tag took some creativity to attach since it is highly dependent on the type of shoes your child wears.  I love that I can easily remove it and put it on the next size when needed (and I will likely pick shoes that it fits better on next time as well).

The company has excellent customer service.  I had one product not work properly for me, and they responded and sent a new part within the same day I emailed them.

There are other similar products and companies as well, check out this list from Autism Speaks on safety products.


Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.