One of the most anguishing aspects of autism, especially for parents of autistic kids is the tendency to wander. We often hear of autistic children wandering off on their own and getting lost or just getting away from their designated safe areas. This trend is becoming increasingly apparent as can be seen in the statistics at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and is something that calls for increased awareness. It is an established fact that almost half of children afflicted with ASD have an increased tendency to wander off from their homes or play areas.
Moreover, another disheartening fact is that many of these wandering children are liable to gravitate towards hazardous areas like water bodies and roads. Factors that compound the problem include the verbal inabilities of the children which make it an impediment to establish communication. These children also display specific behavioral traits that make it difficult to locate them. Law enforcement agencies are now being trained on how to deal with wandering autistic children. However, a painful fact that emerges is that many of these children succumb to death before the officers can reach them.
Awareness among near and dear ones
Families of kids with autism should be made aware of likelihood of the children wandering off and should therefore talk about this to neighbors, friends and teachers. This will essentially mean that there are more pairs of eyes on the child and could mean a lot if the child actually wanders off. Moreover, these people can keep an eye on the child when the parents are not around. These people can be instructed to call in the police if the child is missing or even carry out a search themselves. Parents should also talk to these people about their child’s interests like trains, roads or water.
In the event of a child wandering off, parents and guardians must essentially have a plan of action in mind. They must know about the water bodies that exist in the vicinity where the child like to spend time. Studies show that between 2009 and 2011, 91 per cent of autistic children who went missing died due to drowning. These children were in the age group of 14 years and younger. It would also be advisable to talk to the people who are closest to the child.
Rope in law enforcement
A team of law enforcement officials who are trained to deal with wandering autistic children are on standby to help in such cases. To rope in assistance from these Team Adam consultants, law enforcement authorities should call on 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST). The officials can also download resources that can help them in the search for the missing child. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a nonprofit organization in the US that assists with missing or exploited children. They work in close coordination with families, police and professionals in providing help.