Autism Safety Stuff I Love: The Door Lock That Changed Our Life
My son Calvin with severe autism (now 18) almost drowned in an ice-covered swimming pool in the middle of winter in Michigan when he was about 5 years old. Like a ninja, he snuck out of the house to our on-vacation neighbor’s house with a broken swimming pool latch.
Calvin is the Harry Houdini of the autism world. From early on, he would constantly try to sneak right out the front door and walk down the sidewalk in search of adventure. During one frightening disappearance, I frantically blanketed the neighborhood until a police car casually drove by. A light bulb flashed over my head as I quickly turned and followed the officer’s vehicle to a neighborhood home . . . with a puzzled owner pointing the officer to an 8-year-old boy currently sitting at his computer after the boy nonchalantly walked through his front door minutes earlier.
The other (not as serious) problem involved the pantry and Calvin’s other siblings. He was obsessed with looking through the pantry for food, and exploring their bedrooms for whatever was his current passion at the moment. The kids were really annoyed and frustrated at the non-stop invasions of privacy and thievery.
And then I found it the door lock that changed everything . . . meet the YL-99.
POSITIVE: It’s simple. No Bluetooth. No phone. No apps. It just works.
In a world of smart-everything that requires an app, this just works right out of the box. There’s no configuration, other than using the keypad to set one of many codes.
POSITIVE: We don’t have to worry about the kids keeping track of their keys.
Kids lose everything, especially keys.
POSITIVE: Calvin gave up trying almost immediately.
He definitely was intrigued by the buttons and lights for a couple minutes, but he knew it was a dead end.
NEGATIVE: The beeping can’t be disabled.
It makes a microwave-button-beep type sound when you press each number, followed by a long beep when the door is unlocked. We all got used to them.
NEGATIVE: All the doors are locked and shut all the time.
These have been a necessary evil to keep Calvin out of bedrooms and the pantry. Yes, it was annoying to have to frequently mis-type/wait for the error beep/re-type the code every time I wanted a handful of chips from the pantry. Yes, the kids hated having to stand crossing their legs while frantically typing the code to pee after marathon gaming sessions. But if you polled each person in our family, I would bet a steak dinner that not one person would go back to standard door knobs as long as Calvin is on the job.
NEWS FLASH: There’s a new version.
As I was writing this post, I found that there is a new edition of this lock (the TL-99 instead of the YL-99), but I haven’t bought one, nor will I probably, since we have plenty of the YL-99 and no pressing need to upgrade. It sports a a new bronze option and Bluetooth. I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried one of these.
This is the tip of the door (and window) lock iceberg. We’ve just barely scratched the door (and window) surface. I’ll stop. You get the idea.
Living with Calvin has required a massive amount of ingenuity and constant experimentation, both keeping him in and out of many places. I have much more to say, recommend, pontificate and bloviate on this matter.