Look both ways before you cross the street!

Autistic children are 50 percent more likely to wander off

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Parents and teachers encourage most children to memorize their name, phone number and address in case of an emergency. Autistic children should also learn the safety measures of crossing the streets and playing near a swimming pool.

Children with autism are more likely than their siblings to roam away from home and even ignore traffic signals. All children should know their emergency contact information, traffic safety and what to do in an emergency.

"Autistic children need full-time supervision."

For this study, eight hundred parents of autistic children completed an Elopement and Wandering Questionnaire, questions related to their children's development and wandering habits.

According to lead author, Dr. Paul Law, Director of Medical Informatics at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, children with autism are twice as likely to run away from home than their siblings without autism.

Dr. Law explains that autistic children are not wandering off due to day dreaming, but rather because they are on a mission of some sort. For example, they may want to see a friend or get their favorite snack at the local grocery store.

Because autistic children sometimes have difficulty verbalizing their wants and needs, they take matters into their own hands, leading them to go off on their own.

In Depth

  • 30 percent of the parents that participated in this study, stated that their children were unable to communicate their name and/or emergency contact information
  • Autistic children between the ages of four and ten were most likely to engage in this behavior
  • More than half the parents in this study said they did not receive any advice and/or guidance on how to prevent their autistic child from roaming off alone
  • Parents also explained how they avoided outdoor activities with the family because they feared that their child would roam away
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 22, 2011
Last Updated:
April 28, 2011