Early findings by the Interactive Autism Network, the nation’s largest online autism research project, show that roughly half of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) between the ages of 4 and 10 attempt to elope. Elopement is the term the researchers settled on to describe the proclivity of children to stray, wander, run, bolt, or otherwise leave a space that is considered safe, such as with a parent or guardian. The findings are preliminary, but with over 800 families reporting, there is a markedly higher risk to elope for children of all ages who have ASD. At age 5, for example, approximately 34% of children with ASD eloped verses only about 4% of their unaffected siblings. These findings are especially worrisome considering that over a third of the families who have children who elope also report their children are “never” or “rarely” able to tell people who they are or where they live.
Over half of families reporting stated that elopement was among the most stressful of their child’s ASD behaviors. As examples of that stress, nearly a third of parents needed to call the police, and two thirds of parents had children who had a “close call” with traffic injury or drowning.
So why do children with ASD elope? This is one of the main focuses of the research, and it is still too early to tell for certain. What they have found, however, is that families report that for the most part, children are playful, happy, or focused while eloping and not as frequently eloping in an anxious, sad or confused state of mind.
For more details and the full article, please visit the Interactive Autism Network. The IAN Research article may be found here. If you are able and willing, they do accept donations through the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
If there is a child, teen, young adult, or adolescent in your life who is struggling to make their way, and you just don’t know who to contact or where to go next, consider hiring a therapeutic consultant. Consultants at Prepare To Bloom, LLC guide families in creating individual plans to help them find success. Visit our web page at http://www.preparetobloom.com, or call 650-888-4575.