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My 3 y/o with ASD has turned into a super runner lately.These are the biggest issues.

He jumps all of our baby gates and runs up the stairs, then waits for me to run after him and starts jumping down the stairs at me.

He runs away, specifically from me, in public places and avoids me catching him while laughing the whole time.

He thinks this is all hilarious and doesn't understand any sense of danger. Yesterday he was running into people and they were spilling food/drinks, but he just kept going while laughing and making sure that I wasn't fast enough to catch him. He eventually got out of sight and I had to hunt for him in a fire station.

I have him wear a harness at grocery stores, but what do you do in other situations like a kids' birthday party and is there any way I can get him to stop going up the stairs and jumping down them?

by on Apr. 14, 2014 at 6:57 AM
Replies (31-34):
by Amanda on Apr. 17, 2014 at 12:34 AM

My youngest is a runner. It's a big safety thing for us. My son has no sense of safety and likes to wander. He doesn't laugh or giggle when he runs off though. We use a harness with him or carts at the store. Even with the harness, he still wants to run and wander off. 

by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 12:57 PM

My 2 alomost 3 year old son is the same way. We live in the country and there are a lot of snakes out etc, he has no fear, and knows no danger. I am going to have to get the harness, and talk to his therapists. His nick name is the running man because he breaks out as soon as he hears the front door open. It is surprising at how fast little legs can be.

by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 5:20 PM

I have a runner!  We started using door locks (that were a double lock) and have an alarm that beeps when doors or windows open. This has been helpful.  If I am shopping then she would go in the cart.  Other places we use a stroller, wagon, etc.  What ever is appropriate to the area.  Right now the biggest issue is her running off the school campus...

by on Apr. 20, 2014 at 1:32 PM
My son was a runner as a toodler, but it came to a head early and we had to deal with it right away, because he was not usually running away, but running toward. When he saw something interesting, he would take off running (including into the street). So we dealt with it 3 ways. He wore a harness while at places like the mall or out on the street since he would not hold hands. We had to keep doors and gates locked in way he could not undo without help and we had to install additional toddler proofing. When in a store that had carts, he was always strapped in. I consulted a therapist/special ed trained teacher and we worked toward holding hands and toward learning why running off was not acceptable behavoir. It helped that he started special ed at 3, where he had to learn to line up and stick with activities or in locations as part of a group, but always had an attendent or teacher for support. He is seven now and doesn't run anymore, mostly.
For an older kid (not a toddler), especially if this is a new development, you need to understand why the running is occuring. If the child is way behind in developmental age, you may have to apply behavior modification techniques that are normally reserved for much younger kids. Just because a child is older and larger does not mean you cannot use a harness or "leash", it just means that you may have to get creative with how how you harness ( a sport pack ment for rock climbing often has an extra strap around the stomach and can substitute for a harness). However, the child has to be willing to participate. If the child is only one to a couple of years behind, usually there is a motivation behind the behavior that needs to be addressed.
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