Just do a simple Google search on “Autistic children night wandering” and you will find article after article about the realities of true dangers that a special-needs family faces, and the loss that some families have suffered. In fact, as many of you reading this may have personally experienced, the tendency of individuals with ASD to wander or “bolt” puts them at risk of trauma, injury or even death.
Here are some quick facts around children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder):
Dangers of Elopement
- More than 1/3 of children who elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number, both written and verbally.
- 2/3 of parents report their missing child had a “close call” with a traffic injury.
- Almost a third of parents report a “close call” with a possible drowning.
Effect of Wandering on Families
- 58% of parents with elopers ranked wandering among the most stressful ASD behaviors
- 62% of families of children who elope were prevented from attending/enjoying activities outside the home due to fear of possible wandering
- 40% of parents had suffered sleep disruption due to fear of elopement.
- Children with ASD are 8 times more likely to elope between the ages of seven and 10 than their typically-developing sibling.
Steps you can take to prevent and respond to issues concerning your child’s wandering
- Understand his or her wandering and eliminate the triggers
- Teach your child about wandering dangers
- Use a tracking device or personal locator
- Enroll your child in swimming lessons
- Secure your entire home
- Alert neighbors and local first responders
- Take your child / family on walks to familiarize them with the surrounding areas
- Talk with others parents who have a child with ASD
- Buy ID bracelets and place phone numbers in shoes and belt
- Take your child on the same walk to the same location to create a routine for your child. This may become a “safety net” for finding your child if he/she leaves the home.
Abram’s Bed, maker of The Safety Sleeper™ is committed to provide every caregiver who struggles with monitoring a loved one’s wandering and sleep issues resources to keep him or her safe and prevent dangers before they happen.
Source: the IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering. Sampled 856 parents of children with autism. View full survey here: http://www.iancommunity.org/cs/ian_research_reports/ian_research_report_elopement