Preventing Wandering in Children with Autism

Mikaela LynchThe search for 9 year-old Mikaela Lynch has ended in tragedy as her body was found in a creek near her family’s vacation home in Northern California. Mikaela had autism and tended to wander off. She loved water but was unable to swim.

According to The National Autism Society, in cases of children with autism who died after wandering off, accidental drowning was the cause of death for 91% between the years of 2009-2011.

Any child may wander off, but The Interactive Autism Network’s data from April 2011 shows that children with autism are four times more likely to wander (or elope) from a safe setting than their siblings who were unaffected by autism.

AWAARE has downloadable resources available to help keep all children safe. Download their Autism & Wandering brochure here. Autism Speaks also has links to resources. You can also find a wonderful video called “Understanding Autism” I’ve included here.

We relied on our home security system to alert us to a door that had opened in our house. We also have a small alarm that attaches to our sliding glass door, which my husband found in a pool supply store. While some preventive techniques are simple and relatively inexpensive, some people say that insurance should pay for other methods to keep these children safe.

What do you think? Should there be laws about this issue? How do you prevent wandering in your family?

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About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner. She can be reached at Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


5 Responses to “Preventing Wandering in Children with Autism”

  1. I don’t have any experience with this but I helped get the word out by tweeting this article!

  2. Thanks so much for raising awareness about the dangers of drowning and autistic and other special needs children. Water is so incredibly soothing, such a wonderful form of therapy for those children that it is no wonder that they seek out water on their own. I strongly advise anyone with an autistic or special needs child to get them into swim lessons EARLY!

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