Did you know that 50% of children with ASD have attempted to wander or run off at least once after the age of four? This statistic is shocking but very real. Truth be told, Ryan and I are a part of this statistic.
This past weekend Ryan and I enjoyed our visit to the University of Notre Dame. Of course, any visit to Notre Dame requires you to purchase memorabilia in the book store. Walking into the book store reminded me of our visit a few years ago when Ryan wandered off. This experience isn’t unlike that of many mothers of both typical children and children with autism. However, recent research findings on wandering and children with autism are startling:
- Nearly 50% of parents reported that a child with ASD had attempted to wander or run off at least once after the age of four
- Over half of the wandering children with ASD went missing long enough to cause worry.
- 65% of the incidents involved a close call with traffic.
- 25% involved a close call with drowning.
These statistics, published October 8 in the journal Pediatrics, come from a study investigating autism and wandering. The sample included more than 1,000 children with autism and 1,000 of their typically developing siblings. Parents completed questionnaires about wandering and the findings reveal just how serious of an issue wandering is for children on the spectrum.
This is interesting for two reasons. First, the study shows that wandering is a behavior frequently found among children on the spectrum and is NOT associated with parenting style. Second, the frequency of how often wandering occurs is a call to action for all families and caregivers to have a plan in place to manage this behavior and the dire consequences that may occur.
I encourage you all not to be afraid, but to be aware and plan. In Thursday’s blog look for tips on what we can do as parents and caregivers to prevent and / or decrease wandering and establishing an action plan.