Special Needs Kids: Autism Elopement

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson

CNN released an article today titled “‘Eye on the door’: Life with autism wandering” about children with autism who tend to wander off. Whether you are in public or at home, the thought of your child wandering off can be terrifying for any parent. Parents of a child with any diagnosis that causes the child to have more of a tendency to attempt to escape parental supervision should take extra precautions.  Here are a few ideas from the article:

  1. Make sure you have your child fingerprinted by your local law enforcement agency. Often the police department will have kits parents can obtain to fingerprint and list other vital information.
  2. Contact your local law enforcement agency and see if they have a registration program. Many municipalities are instituting programs for the elderly with dementia or Alzhemeir’s in the event they are found but cannot remember where they live. See if the municipality has a similar program or advocate for the implementation of such a program in your neighborhood.
  3. Educate your neighbors regarding your child’s diagnosis and tendency to run away. Let them know where you live and how to contact you in the event that see your child unsupervised.
  4. Be aware of dangers in your neighborhood. If the child has a strong interest in water, such as the child in the article, make sure you know who has swimming pools in the neighborhood and whether those pools have fences. If moving to a new neighborhood, make sure to check the code requirements for swimming pools and know whether the neighborhood required a proper fence.
  5. Install alarms on your windows and doors that alert you if a door is opened.
  6. Finally, GPS tracking devices are now sold in bracelet and necklace form. For a child that will tolerate wearing one, these can be an excellent device to locate a wandering child.

Whatever steps you take to secure your child from escaping parental supervision, make sure you educate yourself about the resources in the community and be aware of the potential dangers in your neighborhood.


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