Wandering risk higher among children with autism - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Wandering risk higher among children with autism

7-year-old Liam Hamilton's mother says her son, who was autistic, liked to run away and considered it a game. 7-year-old Liam Hamilton's mother says her son, who was autistic, liked to run away and considered it a game.

A Bowie County family is heartbroken after their 7-year-old boy with autism ran off and was found dead in a pond on Wednesday. "His grandfather tried to keep up with him, but Liam is like lightning and he couldn't keep up," said the boy's mother with tears in her eyes.

Sadly, experts say children with autism wandering off is all too common. According to a study released in October, flight risk for children with autism is very real. The study published in pediatrics finds almost half of children with autism will wander away from supervision and go missing.  This is why experts like Tabatha Taylor urge parents to be pro-active.  

The news of little 7 year old Liam Hamilton's death shook Taylor, whose own son has autism. "Just to hear what happened yesterday is devastating, I can only imagine what this family is truly going through," she said.

Taylor is the executive director of the Odyssey Foundation, a non-profit autism resource center. She says wandering off is one of the characteristics associated with the developmental disorder. In fact, the scenario was all too real for one family whose six year old son with autism ran off from his Grandmother's Bossier home earlier this month.

"I was scared. It was scary because he doesn't speak, he can't ask for help so it's scary," said the mother of the missing boy Sylvia Gonzales. Luckily the boy was found safe and reunited with his family. This family's story is exactly why Taylor encourages parents to be pro-active by having a "Family Emergency Wandering Plan".

The plan includes an emergency sheet listing the child's name, any identifying characteristics, and whether the child has a GPS transmitter. She recommends calling 9-1-1 as soon as you notice the child is missing and assembling a team of people who will jump into action right away to start looking for the child. "They can break, run so fast and it doesn't mean somebody wasn't caring for them, it does not mean that at all," said Taylor. 

Anti-wandering and GPS tracking technology is also available as a safeguard. Those range from $10.00 for lost and found temporary tattoos to $200.00 for a transmitter bracelet.  
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