Children with ASD are eight times more likely to [wander] between the ages of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing [children]. Dangers associated with wandering include drowning, getting struck by a vehicle, falling from a high place, dehydration, hyperthermia, abduction, victimization and assault.
According to data released in April 2011 by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) through the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI):
- Roughly half, or 49%, of children with a autism attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings
- More than one third of children with autism 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
In 2012, the National Autism Association found that from 2009 to 2011,accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism subsequent to wandering, and that 23% of total wandering-related deaths occurred while the child was in the care of someone other than a parent.
What precautions can we take?
AWAARE.org a site dedicated to prevent wandering within the Autism Community has created materials that focuses on wandering-prevention, and first-responder notification:
The National Autism Association has also created two new safety toolkits: