Join CafeMom Today! Autism Amber Alert: Action Alert: Wandering-Related Injuries and Death
AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio for child abductions only! Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are NOT included in the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert. This really needs to change.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Action Alert: Wandering-Related Injuries and Death


Keep Our Loved Ones Safe From Wandering-Related Injuries and Death

Please click here to take action now:

Dear Parents and Friends;

Deaths associated with autism wandering/elopement remain a leading cause of fatalities among children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Please see listing of recent fatalities below.*

Individuals with autism go missing from multiple settings – home, school, daycare, summer camps, relatives’ homes – environments that carry common supervision patterns.

The National Autism Association believes a medical code for wandering will help protect at-risk individuals who have a documented history of wandering. Here’s why:

  • Physicians are largely unaware of this issue; therefore, cannot provide prevention materials or advice. A medical code will increase awareness, advice and prevention-material distribution.
  • A diagnostic code will allow for data collection on the incidence of wandering, thereby increasing opportunities for prevention education for doctors, caregivers, school administrators and staff, first responders/search personnel.
  • Many nonverbal individuals with ASD are unable to respond to their name when called. We feel a diagnostic code will lead to increased awareness and the development of emergency search-and-rescue response protocols.
  • We believe a medical code will enhance schools’ understanding of wandering so that children with a history of wandering will be better protected. Currently, wandering is not looked at as a medical condition, but one of choice or bad behavior. This has lead to a lack of school training, prevention and emergency response. In January alone, two children with autism went missing from their schools.
  • Children and adults with ASD who suddenly flee, bolt or run because of a trigger are at greater risk of restraint. We believe a medical code will help establish protocols that work to eliminate triggers, thereby eliminating the need for restraint.
  • We’ve seen reports of parents locking/secluding children in their rooms to keep them from wandering outside. While this is anecdotal information, we believe parents, schools and other care providers need better solutions. A medical code has enormous potential to help provide safe alternatives.
  • We believe every disabled individual with a history of wandering — who is at serious risk of injury, trauma or death — should have access to safety devices and prevention materials regardless of the caregiver's income. A medical code for wandering could potentially provide insurance coverage for those unable to afford critical protections for their children/adults.
Please support a wandering medical code for at-risk individuals by signing this petition. You can also send a personal or organizational letter of support via email to Donna Pickett, Co-Chair of the ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee, at The comment period closes April 1, 2011.

This medical code would be available for those most at risk. Not every person with a developmental disability wanders into potential danger, but for those individuals
that are susceptible, the consequences can be devastating. They should be afforded every opportunity for protection from harm.


The National Autism Association
for information and resources on wandering prevention.


At the end of February alone, two children with autism drowned within the same weekend – a seven-year-old girl, and three-year-old boy.

In 2010, Aiden Johnson, age 3; Christian Dejons, 6; Nathan Kinderdine 7; Mason Medlam, age 5; Adlai Kugblenu, age 8; Zachary Clark, age 5; Luke Selwyn, age 6; and Kaiyla Sullivan, age 7, all died following a wandering incident. All diagnosed with autism.

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