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Know the facts: Elopement

April 20, 2022

Spring is in the air! As it warms up, it is the time of year that we are all ready to get outdoors, which can put our children affected by autism at increased risk for elopement behavior (leaving an area without permission or supervision). We hope to give you the tools to build cherished warm weather memories with your entire family, safely.

Know the facts:

  • Over 25% of parents of children with ASD report their child has wandered or eloped in the last year
  • Over 33% of children with ASD who elope/wander are unable to communicate information to reunite them with their caregivers (i.e., indicating their name, address, and phone number)
  • Children affected by ASD elope four times more often than their typically developing sibling(s)
  • Accidents & injuries due to elopement/wandering are highest between May-August
  • In children affected by ASD, elopement risk increases with severity of symptoms

Examples of High-Risk Situations:

  • Family vacations
  • When primary caregiver(s) are away
  • Novel community settings or novel routines
  • Open spaces (parks, sporting events, parking lots)
  • Crowded places (swimming pools, amusement parks, mall, social gatherings)
  • Water sources (ponds, lakes, pools)
  • Transition times (store to parking lot, school to summer break, ending one activity and starting another)

Families should work with their BCBA and clinical team to promote safety during fun outdoor activities.

Father playing with his little girl at home Father playing with his little girl at home