The Interactive Autism Network (IAN), the nation’s largest online autism research project, has revealed the preliminary results of the first major survey on wandering and elopement among individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and announced the launch of a new research survey on the association between pregnancy factors and ASD. The wandering and elopement survey found that approximately one-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.
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 “IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering.”
The survey found the following:
• 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;
• Wandering was ranked among the most stressful ASD behaviors by 58% of parents of elopers;
• One-half of families with elopers report they had never received advice or guidance about elopement from a professional;
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: enjoys exploring (54%); heads for a favorite place (36%); escapes demands/anxieties (33%); pursues special topic (31%); and escapes sensory discomfort (27%).
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.
— Source: Kennedy Krieger Institute