|By Lori McIlwain, National Autism Association|
For parents of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are prone to wandering or bolting away, it can feel like an overwhelming challenge to keep them safe in any setting. Over the last three years, roughly 13% of ASD wandering incidents happened from a school or school-related environment according to the National Autism Association (NAA). Other settings can be just as frightening. Trips to the store, a relative’s home, or vacation settings can create opportunities for escape, leaving parents hesitant to leave the home.
While it’s very possible that a wandering incident can occur outside of the home, the right steps can help reduce the risk.
Simply discussing the issue of wandering with your child’s school holds extraordinarily value. If your child has a history of wandering or bolting, ask his or her school for a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). Based on its findings, a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) should be developed and used consistently between home and school. Here are other tips to consider:
Lori McIlwain has a 15-year-old son with autism and is co-founder and board chair of the National Autism Association (NAA). In 2007, Lori began advocating for federal resources that would reduce and eliminate emotional trauma, injuries and deaths associated with autism-related wandering/elopement. She has also advocated for federal laws that would eliminate dangerous restraint and seclusion practices in public and private schools. Through NAA, she has launched multiple safety initiatives and direct-assistance programs.