Wandering is a real risk when it comes to children on the autism spectrum.  Sadly,  half of families with elopers report they had never received advice or guidance about elopement from a professional (IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering, 2011).

Autism College, in partnership with the National Autism Association, wants to help change that statistic. On Saturday February 18, we are offering a webinar on The Scope of Wandering, Prevention Strategies, and Resources as part of our free  online Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention conference, sponsored in part by The Social Express. It’s your opportunity to get  strategies you can use to decrease your worries.  The webinar will take place on  Saturday, February 18, 8:15 am – 9:45 am PST (11:15 am -12:45 pm EST). The webinar will be interactive.

Register here for the conference, and you will receive information on how to attend this webinar.

How much of a problem is wandering for children with autism? A few statistics:

  • 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. (SOURCE: National Autism Association, Lethal Outcomes in ASD Wandering, 2012)
  • More than one third of ASD children who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number (IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering, 2011)
  • Two in three parents of elopers reported their missing children had a “close call” with a traffic injury (IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering, 2011)
  • Children with ASD are eight times more likely to elope between the ages of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing siblings (IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering, 2011)

Description of Presentation Topic: The Scope of Wandering, Prevention Strategies, and Resources

Incidents of missing children and wandering-related deaths are being reported in the news with frightening frequency. In the last three years, more than 20 individuals with autism have lost their lives due to wandering. Preliminary data in the first IRB-approved study on autism-related wandering shows that half of children with autism have successfully wandered from adult supervision. Families cite wandering as the most stressful behavior they face. Drowning associated with autism elopement is a leading cause of death among children and adults on the autism spectrum. This presentation will discuss the scope of this issue, prevention strategies and provide resources for caregivers to keep their loved ones safe.

Presenter: Wendy Fournier is a founding board member and President of the National Autism Association.  The organization has been instrumental in bringing federal attention to the issue of autism-related wandering.  In 2010, Wendy and NAA Executive Director Lori McIlwain were invited to present on the wandering/elopement issue before the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee at NIH, where they outlined the need for data collection, medical diagnostic coding, and federal health agency involvement. As a result, the committee has since implemented several of NAA’s recommendations. In addition to bringing awareness to the issue, NAA has developed extensive resources for the community including the AWAARE collaboration website and the Big Red Safety Box program.

Register here for the conference.