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Home-Defense Techniques

Photos by Leslie Harris and Markie Wheeler-Jones

Considerations for Home-Defense With Special Needs Children

It’s 2 a.m. — you’re startled awake by breaking glass and the sound of rummaging coming from somewhere in the house. You grab your nightstand pistol and begin to clear to your children’s rooms. But what if one of them can’t walk, speak, or understand you? Is this is a problem for a special-needs parent defending their home? You bet it is. Having a special-needs child, an elderly parent, or other loved one in the home who is unable to help themselves requires a little extra planning on your part.

According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 15 percent of children aged 3 to 17 have one or more developmental disabilities, and my youngest son is one of them. Declan suffers from a rare genetic disease related to Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC). This non-hereditary disease renders him completely dependent on my wife and me for everything. He’s developmentally delayed, non-motile, non-verbal, tube fed, and suffers from a type of seizure that causes him to stop breathing.

In lay terms, Declan can’t speak, walk, eat, nor sit up on his own. Despite these challenges, he knows he’s loved and cared for and is as happy a little guy as he can be. As his father, one of a thousand daily considerations with my son is how do I protect him if something happens in the home?

We have four other children for a grand total of five. (Yes, we’ve heard all the jokes.) The others are two teenaged and nearly teenaged sons and two younger daughters, one still a baby. The older children have gotten the usual “dad briefs” on what to do in case of fire, natural disaster, civil unrest, or home invasion. They’re strong, capable boys who can take direction and assist their younger siblings.

However, when it comes to Declan, none of the above is possible. Unlike a baby, or very young child, Declan is 7 years old, weighs nearly 50 pounds, and suffers from low muscle tone — he can’t support himself with his own musculature. You can’t one-arm him and maneuver through a crisis situation like you could with a baby. He can hold his head up, but tires easily. The challenge is that if we have to move, he’s like carrying a 50-pound sack of adorable potatoes.

So what is the plan?

Prepare the Ground
As a special-needs parent, you’ve likely already made several optimizations and customizations to your home. From wheelchair ramps to bath chairs and beyond, you’ve made your home more suitable for the day-to-day tasks of taking care of your child. Now it’s time to do the same thing for every parent’s worst nightmare: a home invasion.

family-meetinghome-invasion

The good news is you already own the ground on which you’ll fight. Set yourself up for success with a few of the following tips.

If possible, move your most precious child into your own bedroom. Most master bedrooms are slightly oversized and will accommodate another bed. Declan has his own bed in our room so he’s right by mom and dad no matter what happens. This way, if needed, you can make your way to your other children’s rooms and relocate everyone much more easily to this location.

If your child has his own room due to medical equipment, etc., consider making his room your safe-room or rally point. If you can, make his room the closest room to yours. If deemed necessary, make your way to it with your family in tow and hard-point there.

baby-carrier

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