Smart lock for autistic child

Hi all, we have a 5 year old autistic boy who can open both deadbolts on the front door and keeps opening the door to strangers before mom can get to it. Twice we’ve had people in the living room when mom came out of the bedroom. Luckily, one was our neighbor and the other a friend. He doesn’t “get” it as we’ve explained it many times. He thinks he’s being helpful. I’ve been looking and looking for a smart deadbolt to prevent him from simply turning the lock. Maybe something with a PIN, touchpad or smart phone app. Something where we can prevent him from simply turning open the deadbolt. Maybe something without a knob. Has anyone seen something that will work? I’ve thought about using a keyed lock on both sides but he can use keys too and I’m afraid of losing them in our 4 kid household. Lol.

I dont personally know if there are any locks that either dont have a knob on the inside or you can disable the nob. But i did see one at my local lowe and home depot that has a button instead on a knob on the inside for locking and unlocking. Maybe with that lock you can add the capability to you lock to deactivate it at will. But i cant say for certain. I personally would go into a store that has a lot on display near you and try them all out and see if there is one that fits your needs.
I hope that is of some help.

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If you’re in the US, most residential codes require that buildings where people sleep Have exterior doors that can be opened from the inside without requiring a special key or code, as a matter of fire safety. That means that locks are not generally made in this format. Obviously, this is a challenge for any household which has a family member with cognitive issues, either someone on the autism spectrum or someone with Alzheimer’s who wanders.

1. Childproofing The door while still allowing an adult to open it from the inside without a key

The main way around the code issue is to get a childproof lock as the code does not usually require the children be able to open it by themselves. Some of these are also made as “confounding locks” so that they can be opened by an adult who doesn’t have cognitive challenges, but they will slow down or prevent Used by someone who doesn’t understand how they work.

These aren’t smart locks, though. There just a different kind of deadbolt that you install and operate manually.

The door guardian is a popular brand. This usually get installed fairly high on the door as well.

It comes in different styles and colors:

The problem with this is that if, for example, your son and your wife are home and she had the door guardian in the locked position, you would not be able to come into the house until she had changed the position of the door guard. So it’s not always what people are looking for.

2. Adding a second smart lock

If you want to be able to open it from either side, the another way is just is two smart locks and put one facing in and one facing out. But this will probably not be to code because in order to open it from the inside, the adult has to either know a special code or use an additional key.

3. Childproof a cabinet over the interior lock

Another way which will be to code, but you have to consider whether you like the aesthetics of it, is to get a regular smart lock and install it.

Now install a small cabinet over the Door lock on the inside of the door and then childproof the door to that cabinet.

Now when you want to turn the turnbolt from the inside of the house, you open the cabinet door with the child proof method, and then just physically turn the turn bolt. :sunglasses:

If you want to open the door from the outside of the house you just use your normal smart lock method.

The point is that the cabinet on the inside of the door does not prevent the door being opened from the outside, unlike the confounding locks. And it doesn’t require a special key or code. But it should prevent a child, as well as many adults with cognitive issues, from being able to open the cabinet and get access to the Turnbolt. You can use any style cabinet you want and any child proofing methods for a typical cabinet. All you’re doing is putting the turnbolt behind its own small closed door.


I personally like the cabinet idea, but I’m a person in a wheelchair, and many of the others depend on putting a lock very high up.

So those are some of the issues and some of the various ways that people approach it. Different things work for different households.


Just install a smart lock higher up so your son couldn’t reach it.

In the interim… until you find the correct lock

How about a door contact connected to something that makes a noise - doorbell or siren
At least you would know the door was opened…


Double-sided combination deadbolts are quite pricey.

My fear is something happen to you and a need arises to open the door in an emergency.

An alarm on the door that has a unpleasant horn or siren deactivated by you via a code might provide negative reinforcement to discourage a child from opening the door. Check with a local school district for other suggestions.

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Wow, thank you! These are fantastic ideas. I especially like the cabinet idea and the going to a local store. I simply didn’t think of going to home depot and looking. As a side note, we installed a very high deadbolt about a year ago for this issue. Recently, he’s started making quick use of stools and chairs to get to it - lol. He’s a fast helper lol. The fire and emergency issue does concern me. I was thinking maybe a maglock with a quick release button but that needs electricity and is outside my installation expertise. I don’t do electric! :slight_smile: The Guardian is also a great little gadget and affordable too. Thanks again all!

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Medeco Removable Thumbturn - is the only one I’ve heard of - useful where you have sidelights close to door, but obviously it’s an issue for fire exit.

double-cylinder lock is a lot cheaper with similar fire-exit problem.

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I have a motion sensor outside my door and give me a phone notification when active. Also I have camera for quick glance. I don’t have issue with my kids opening the door to stranger but it gives me the ability to tell my kids to open the door if it’s not a stranger and I am lazy.

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BTW, there is a how to article in the community – created wiki on setting up a door chime/siren just in case that’s of any interest. :sunglasses:

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Also, in some households it works to have a chime go off if someone steps on a pressure mat in front of the door. But I think this is less used for front door alerts than it is to detect someone coming out of their bedroom at night. But if it does work for your household to put it in front of the door, it would give you a small amount of additional time before the lock was actually unlocked.

Pressure mats are one of those things that work great in some households and not at all in others because it just depends on your own family’s movement patterns. For example, if you Have a dog, you probably can’t use it, because the dog may want to lie on the mat. But it is another option to consider.

Some families also build an “airlock” around an entry area with something similar to baby gates. This can be helpful if you have a “darter,” either a pet or a child. And then that gives you yet another place to put a sensor to catch unexpected activity, either just the airlock gate opening or again a pressure mat inside the gate area. This can be done in many different styles and heights depending on exactly what you need to accomplish.


At our house we did this on the outside in front of the front door because again, I’m a wheelchair user, and I was having trouble getting in or out without the cats coming through as well. This way the cats can’t get all the way out to the yard even if they come through the door with me and then I can get them back into the house.

Depending on how much you want to invest and the architecture of the area, these can also be done in a very elegant way.