wandering

ABOUT AUTISM WANDERING / ELOPEMENT

Autism is a diagnosis that represents many symptoms and behavioral tendencies, some of which can lead to serious health and safety risks including death. In 2008, Danish researchers found that the mortality rate among the autism population is twice as high as in the general population. In 2001, a California research team attributed elevated mortality among people with autism in large part to drowning. Drowning, prolonged exposure, and other wandering-related factors remain among the top causes of death within the autism population. In a 2007 online poll through the National Autism Association, 92% of parents reported that their children with autism have a tendency to wander. In 2011, preliminary data from a Interactive Autism Network study found that almost half of all children wander.

DEFINITIONS

WANDERING: Wandering means to move about from place to place with or without a fixed plan.

ELOPEMENT: The act of running away, wandering away, walking away, escaping, or otherwise leaving a safe setting unsupervised or unnoticed.

ABOUT AUTISM WANDERING / ELOPEMENT

GOAL-DIRECTED WANDERING: Wandering with the purpose of getting to something (water, train tracks, park, an item or place of obsession, etc.), or getting away from something (noise, bright colors, clutter, commotion, etc.).
NON GOAL-DIRECTED WANDERING: Wandering with seemingly no purpose; random and aimless movement from one place to another.
WANDERING – OTHER: Any other type of wandering – nighttime wandering, or wandering due to disorientation or confusion.
BOLTING / FLEEING: The act of suddenly running or bolting, usually to quickly get away from something, or in negative reaction to an event, anxiety, excitement or stress.

NEW MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS CODE

A new medical diagnosis code has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When implemented in October 2011, the code will be listed as V40.31 – Wandering in Diseases Classified Elsewhere.
Caregivers of those at risk of wandering should discuss this diagnosis code with their physician. Official diagnosis may assist with insurance coverage for safety equipment and strengthen requests for implementation of safety-related strategies and accommodations in a student’s IEP.

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12 WAYS TO PREVENT, AND RESPOND TO, ASD WANDERING

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