50% of Children with Autism Wander, New Study Reports

(Press Release) – New Data Shows Half of All Children with Autism Wander and Bolt from Safe Places

Interactive Autism Network releases findings on critical safety issue, launches new research survey on pregnancy 

Today, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), http://www.ianproject.org,  the nation’s largest online autism research project, reveals the preliminary results of the first major survey on wandering and elopement among individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and announces the launch of a new research survey on the association between pregnancy factors and ASD. The wandering and elopement survey found that approximately half of parents of children with autism report that their child elopes, with the behavior peaking at age four. Among these families, nearly 50% say that their child went missing long enough to cause significant concern about safety.

“This survey is the first research effort to scientifically validate that elopement is a critical safety issue for the autism community,” said Dr. Paul Law, Director of the IAN Project at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. “We hope that advocates and policy makers use this research to implement key safety measures to support these families and keep these children safe.”

In just three weeks, more than 800 parents of children with autism completed the survey. The findings highlighted below summarize the compelling results and crucial safety concerns identified by parents. For the preliminary findings in their entirety, read the IAN Research Report:  Elopement and Wandering.

Dangers of Elopement

The tendency of individuals with ASD to wander or “bolt” puts them at risk of trauma, injury or even death:

  • More than one third of children who elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number verbally or by writing/typing
  • Two in three parents report their missing children had a “close call” with a traffic injury
  • 32% of parents report a “close call” with a possible drowning

Effect of Wandering on Families

  • Wandering was ranked among the most stressful ASD behaviors by 58% of parents of elopers
  • 62% of families of children who elope were prevented from attending/enjoying activities outside the home due to fear of wandering
  • 40% of parents had suffered sleep disruption due to fear of elopement
  • Children with ASD are eight times more likely to elope between the ages of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing siblings

Resources, Support for Families 

  • Half of families with elopers report they had never received advice or guidance about elopement from a professional
  • Only 19% had received such support from a psychologist or mental health professional
  • Only 14% had received guidance from their pediatrician or another physician

Continue reading “50% of Children with Autism Wander, New Study Reports”

Release of the IACC Summary of Advances in ASD Research and Updates on Autism Awareness Month Activities

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and Office of Autism Research Coordination released and posted the 2010 IACC Summary of Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorder Research  today in conjunction with Department of Health and Human Services celebration of “National Autism Awareness Month”  and the United Nations designated “World Autism Awareness Day” on April 2, 2011.  The 2010 IACC Summary of Advances is a collection of brief summaries covering the twenty research findings and associated publications that the IACC felt made the most significant contributions to autism biomedical and services research in 2010.

IACC and Department of Health and Human Services information:

  • Release of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006
  • Upcoming IACC Full Committee Meeting on April 11, 2011, featuring special presentations in recognition of National Autism Awareness Month

Additional Autism Awareness information:

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