Parents have many fears when they receive a diagnosis that their child has autism. With the prevalence of autism diagnoses increasing 6-15 percent every year, making it the fastest growing developmental disability, these fears are becoming realities for more and more parents every day. One of the most concerning fears is autism wandering.
There are a variety of factors that lead to autism wandering, including trying to escape from an overly stimulating environment and interest in something outside of the boundaries of the home. Nearly 50 percent of children with autism will display wandering behavior. Because many children with autism lack a sense of safety awareness, the dangers of wandering are immense. Children may wander into traffic without looking, and 90% of wandering-related deaths are attributed to accidental drownings.
Autism wandering can occur regardless of the level of adult supervision. It takes only moments for a child to move beyond their safe environment. If a child has wandered off, it is important to contact the authorities immediately. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and there are many steps that you can take to minimize the risk of autism wandering.
Providing a physical barrier, such as a fenced-in backyard, can allow children to safely enjoy the outdoors. Ady’s Army is a non-profit organization that provides funding for building fences through their program, Ady’s Barracks. A secure fence can allow parents to breathe easy while their children play in the yard. Many parents will also install door and perimeter alarms to alert them if their child has left.
Tracking devices can also be worn by children, allowing parents and police officers to quickly pinpoint the location of an autistic child in the event of wandering. The faster a child is found, the less likely an event of autism wandering is to end in tragedy.
For more information about preventing and responding to autism wandering, please contact us.