The Interactive Autism Network (IAN) 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.
Dangers of Elopement
The tendency of individuals with ASD to wander or "bolt" puts them at risk of trauma, injury or even death:
Effect of Wandering on Families
Resources, Support for Families
Motivations for Elopement
Despite speculation that summer is the peak season for elopement, 67% of parents of elopers said they saw no seasonal pattern at all; only 25% felt summer was the peak season. The top 5 reasons parents believed their children eloped included:
After further analysis of the data the IAN Project will publish additional findings, such as how children with ASD who wander differ from children with ASD who do not, the financial and emotional burden on parents, and the steps parents take to prevent elopement.
This research was funded by the Autism Research Institute, Autism Science Foundation, Autism Speaks and Global Autism Collaboration.
In addition to Autism Speaks, the Simons Foundation and the National Institutes of Health also support the IAN Project.To read the preliminary findings in their entirety, visithttp://www.iancommunity.org/cs/ian_research_reports/ian_research_report_elopement
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