Fire: Please be aware for your children with autism.

Recently I heard of a boy suffering from severe autism who had a fascination with fire and was burned on 60% of his body when he walked into a fire pit in his family’s backyard.

Some might question the competence of parents who allowed this to happen.  Those of us who are familiar with this issue know otherwise.

I am reminded of the two incidences that resulted in our banning of candles from our house forever.  The first time my daughter erupted in flame was at a friend’s birthday party.  We were toasting with champagne and I realized that LL was mesmerized by a candle on the mantle-piece. Before I could take the one step behind me to reach her, the flames were on her bangs and there were small blisters on her forehead.  Luckily we were able to put this out in a hurry and apply ice and she was not permanently disfigured.  She did not learn from this and the next year, on her birthday, she did a face plant into her birthday cake, candles and all.  Only the quick reaction of her uncle, sitting across the table from her, averted a catastrophe.  The singed bangs grew back in and she is as lovely as ever.

I think we should have a public warning go out to all parents and care-givers to be especially aware of the risks of fire and the potential for severe injury.  This may be as common as “wandering” and cause as many deaths and suffering families left behind.

I would be interested if  anyone who happens to read this knows of any children or adults with autism who have been injured by fire.

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2 thoughts on “Fire: Please be aware for your children with autism.

  1. My son has never been injured by fire, but he cannot stop himself from playing with it. He wants to light candles, tiki torches, etc.. The problem comes in that he wants to blow them out, and re-light them again and again. He does not take care to move – say wrapping paper – out of the way before blowing on the flame. We have been lucky, but it is a constant worry whenever he is exposed to fire.

  2. Thanks for replying with the story of your son. One part of this issue is the “obsessive/compulsive” component which it seems is part of what drives your son. For many people with autism spectrum disorders, there is also the issue of altered sensory processing. They may “see” the flames differently than we do and therefore be more entranced by them. And, if burned, may have increased or decreased pain sensation that may change the response to future encounters.
    I think there is more information on cognitive behavioral therapies to help the OCD component. I do not think that my daughter can be helped in that way, but maybe your son? Sometimes it’s a matter of replacing the dangerous compulsion with one that is less dangerous; like chewing gum instead of smoking…
    Forgive me for the unsolicited advice. It is part of my personality to want to have a solution to all problems. I only wish you and your family the best.

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