One of our big concerns for our son, Camden, is safety. The data shows that almost half of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder attempt to wander. The numbers also show that in 2009, 2010, and 2011, accidental drowning due to subsequent wandering/elopement accounted for 91% of the total U.S. deaths reported in children with Autism under the age of 14. SCARY!
I realize every parent is interested in their child’s safety. What can make it challenging with Autism, is that many of those children struggle with severe communication delays and social challenges.
My heart aches for those families who come up in my Facebook thread at least once a week because their child with autism has gone missing, or when the child has been found dead in a body of water. Many kids with ASD are drawn to water or traffic. Both of those situations can obviously be critical.
We were delighted to learn that our city recently implemented the “Take Me Home” program for residents who are verbally limited. The police department hosted an open house this past weekend, so we took advantage of the opportunity to scope out various emergency vehicles and get signed up for the program. It was super easy. The form is available online, and you can attach a photo to the document or email it.
To learn more about McKinney’s “Take Me Program”, click here. If your town doesn’t currently have a program like this, but you’d love to see it happen, perhaps you could schedule a meeting with your local police department. National Autism Association has put together a valuable resource for emergency responders, here .
- Roughly half, or 48%, of children with an ASD attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings
- In 2009, 2010, and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with an ASD ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement.
- More than one third of ASD children who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number
- Two in three parents of elopers reported their missing children had a “close call” with a traffic injury
- 32% of parents reported a “close call” with a possible drowning
- Wandering was ranked among the most stressful ASD behaviors by 58% of parents of elopers
- 62% of families of children who elope were prevented from attending/enjoying activities outside the home due to fear of wandering
- 40% of parents had suffered sleep disruption due to fear of elopement
Source: Interactive Autism Network Research Report: Elopement and Wandering (2011)
Source: National Autism Association, Lethal Outcomes in ASD Wandering (2012)