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New AAP Study Confirms Children with Autism at High Risk for Wandering

October 29, 2018


Half (49%) of all children with autism have an increased risk of injury or death because of elopement, according to the study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Even more frightening is that of those children who wander, nearly two-thirds (65%) were in danger of traffic injury and 24% in danger of drowning. The AAP says there is an “urgent need to develop interventions to reduce the risk of elopement, to support families coping with this issue, and to train child care professionals, educators, and first responders who are often involved when elopements occur.”   

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Autism complicates missing child cases.

Every missing child case strikes fear into parents’ hearts, but it is a much more frightening situation when the missing child also has autism. The search team is  rushing to find the child, but they must be careful in their search. If not, they could risk driving the child further into danger rather than closer to safety.

Approximately 50% of children with autism are considered nonverbal.

This statistic alone poses a problem for first responders in their search and rescue efforts. How do you track a child that won’t respond to your calls or yell for help? It’s something important to consider, especially when more than half of children with autism will wander from safety at least once in their life. What’s even more alarming, is that children with autism have a skewed sense of what is dangerous, and many are drawn to bodies of water. With drowning existing as the leading cause of death for children with autism, first responders are under pressure to find these missing children fast.

Search efforts require an individualized approach.

With time being crucial in the search for missing children with autism, first responders must consider what is unique about the child. Will people shouting for the child cause more anxiety? Many missing child cases have begun to use recordings of the parents’ voices to reassure the child and draw them out of hiding. Understanding what the child is scared of and what the child is drawn to is important to securing their safety.

Parents can’t do it alone.

Children with autism are easily thrown into a “fight-or-flight” response, engaging a very reactive part of their brain that is easily overstimulated. They can’t always control their urges and will run away from something that has frightened them or towards something that has fascinated them. Using technology that can help locate the child, allow the parent to speak to the child, and quickly reduce the stress of the situation can make a big difference.

GPS trackers can help.

Vigilance in monitoring a child with autism will help ensure their safety, but even the best supervision can’t guarantee that a child will not wander. GPS trackers are recommended for all children with autism, especially those prone to wandering. AngelSense was specifically developed to help prevent wandering in children with autism, so the technology works with the child’s unique needs in mind. AngelSense can pinpoint the exact location of a child, even when he or she is hiding, and it provides alerts to parents and caregivers if the child deviates from their expected schedule or location. AngelSense has been proven to save lives. A few minutes can make the biggest difference for children with autism, and in missing child cases, there isn’t a moment to spare. Learn more about what makes AngelSense the first choice of parents, agencies, and first responders alike.

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