One of the most shocking statistics I read recently is the percentage of children with autism that will run away from home…49%! Let me repeat that…half of children with autism will run away from home!!!! That is an alarming statistic that must be addressed with law enforcement, emergency personnel and families of children with autism. The National Autism Association did just that this week posting a Meet the Police guide on their website. In the guide, they cover how to schedule a visit to meet the local police and dispatch, what information to provide law enforcement, and safety tips to keep your loved one safe in the home.
The first step is scheduling a visit with local police or sheriff’s office. A “Meet Sheet” is available to print and fill out and give to members of law enforcement during your visit with personal information on your child. On the sheet is a checklist communicating to law enforcement what “this person with autism may” do. For example, the child with autism may not speak, avoid eye contact, not respond to verbal commands, not answer questions, etc. The sheet also addresses other behaviors, suggestions on places to search if the child becomes lost as well as contact numbers for parents or guardians.
In the guide there is a “What is Autism” sheet you can provide law enforcement. This sheet is a great one page educational tool to help them better understand autism and how to recognize and approach a person with autism. It gives a brief explanation of autism, unique safety risks, as well as things they can do to help keep children and adults with autism safe in the community. The guide also includes an Autism and Wandering sheet which provides data on missing person cases involving individuals with autism to help law enforcement understand where to search for a person with autism.
Honestly, this is one of my biggest fears as a mother. Although Sissy does not exhibit behaviors commonly associated with wandering, it is crucial for our local law enforcement to be aware of her diagnosis, characteristics, likes and dislikes and behavioral problems that may impact her interaction with law enforcement and emergency personnel. I will post our visit with local law enforcement in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.