Stats at a glance (National Autism Association, 2021)
- 62% of families of children who elope were prevented from attending/enjoying activities outside the home due to fear of wandering
- 40% of parents had suffered sleep disruption due to fear of elopement
- Children with ASD are eight times more likely to elope between the ages of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing siblings
The most common places from which children with autism elope are their homes (74%), stores (40%), and schools (29%). (Anderson et al., 2012) This data shows that while neighbors and local community members might be more likely to encounter an eloping child, anyone going about their daily lives could find themselves in this situation. Moreover, close calls with traffic injury were reported in 65% of all elopement cases in the Anderson et al. (2012) survey, suggesting that motorists may find themselves in unpredictable and terrifying situations when encountering children with autism who wander into traffic areas.
How to talk to families about elopement and other safety issues
National Autism Association - Autism & Wandering: A Guide for Clinicians
"ASD wandering is usually a form of communication — an “I need,” “I want,” or “I don’t want.” Individuals with ASD will wander or bolt to get to something of interest, or away from something bothersome. Wandering occurs under every type of adult supervision, and across all settings." (McIlwain, 2015)
Resources for a waiting room
National Autism Association - Autism and Wandering
National Autism Association - Personal Emergency Profile Sheet
National Autism Association - Wandering Quick Tips
Autism Society - Paramedics and Emergency Room Staff
These tip sheets are a way to gather important information at a glance. These can be helpful for medical appointments, school, and community events.
- National Autism Association. (2021) Autism & safety facts. National Autism Association. Retrieved from https://nationalautismassociat..
- McIlwain, L. (2015, January 9). Autism & wandering: A guide for clinicians. National Autism Association. Retrieved from https://nationalautismassociation.org/autism-wandering-a-guide-for-clinicians/.