By Jessy McCulloch, Events & Social Media Marketing Coordinator, AHSS
We’ve spoken a lot about the dangers of wandering and elopement in our loved ones with autism. And yet with statistics showing that roughly half (48%) of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder attempt to elope from a safe environment, it’s a subject that really can’t be talked about enough.
Recently the parents of two autistic boys (10 and 8 years old) on Long Island won the right for their kids to wear GPS tracking devices to class. Even though the parents tried everything they could to prevent it, the boys had wandered from home or school 14 times in two years.
“I can’t even begin to describe for people what it’s like to wonder if this is the time he might not come back,” said the boy’s mother.
She’s certainly not alone in that fear. In fact, 58% of parents report wandering as the most stressful of ASD behaviors.
There are preventative measure we can take. GPS could do a lot to help calm the fears of parents facing wandering from their kiddos — like in this article from earlier this year about a GPS-equipped clothing line. But you can also find a multitude of other tips and resources on Autism Speaks’ website as well.
Awareness, vigilance, and persistence will take us far on this issue. Our own Jonathan Slack really says it beautifully in reference to his sister:
“Every day is new territory with Jennifer. How do you deal with someone who wants to be independent, but probably will never have the necessary verbal skills or emotional maturity to be independent? I do not have a good answer yet, except that we just take it one day at a time.”