Half of children with autism 'elope,' putting themselves at risk

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  • twinfallsid TWIN FALLS, ID
    Oct. 9, 2012 12:27 p.m.

    My daughter with Down Syndrome did this regularly between the ages of 3-7. It was extremely stressful. She climbed out a basement window even. She would climb the fence and run up the sidewalk or go to the neighbor behind us who was extremely rude and had no compassion. My daughter got away once and within minutes my children and I were looking for her. That same neighbor was standing on her porch watching as we were running around frantic. Pretty soon a police car drove up. She had her in her house the whole time watching us panic! It back-fired because I went up to her and gave her a piece of my mind and the policeman (who happened to have a sister with Downs) backed me up. Thank heavens she moved.
    We have several other children, so the chime wasn't effective. We did have to go to extreme measures and now she is less likely to wander, but we have to be absolutely vigilant when out in public. Unless you've been in this situation, you have no understanding.

  • Utah Native Farmington, UT
    Oct. 9, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    Interesting information. Most children with Down syndrome share this tendency as well, wandering off at least once before age 11. There are many tactics to thwart this, including door chimes, locks higher up on the door than can be reached, radio telemetry tracking devices, etc., but even the best parents lose track of kids who feel compelled to wander off. We lost our daughter 3 times that I can recall, once at the Layton Hills Mall when she was 5, in the neighborhood at age 6 (she was hiding in the neighbor's basement), and once at school. In that instance, she and two other classmates with Down syndrome left their elementary school instead of boarding the bus home. They were found an hour later heading to Home Depot "to get stuff for camping and marshmallows." If you see a child with special needs on his own, siomething is not right. Please stay with that child until his parents arrive.