Safety Issues and Facts
According to the Centers for Disease Control CDC ASD HOME
· Average of 1 in every 88 children have an ASD
· Parents who have 1 child with ASD have a 2-8% chance of having another child with ASD.
· Approximately 40% of children with an ASD do not talk at all and many will present as non-verbal when highly stressed.
· Individuals with autism cannot be identified by appearance–they look like everyone else! They are identified by their behaviors.
According to the National Autism Association Report National Autism Association
· Approximately 92% of parents reported their ASD child has a tendency to wander (National Autism Association Report)
According to an article by Dennis Debbaudt (2007) in The Organization for Autism Research:
· Individuals with ASD’s are 7 times more likely to come into contact with police than their peers
· Families with autism look to officials for assistance with wandering while trying to deal with pressure and criticism from neighbors, social service professionals, law enforcement; often putting up fences, alarm systems on doors and windows
· The autism community is well aware of autism-based safety issues and taking steps to address it
· School-based awareness is imperative! This includes custodians, secretarial staff, transportation, cafeteria, teachers, and administration; often these individuals will be viewed as teachers and be sought out; kids with autism are also targets for bullying
· Teach students with autism Risk Life Education and Safety Awareness
According to an the Autism Society of America (ASA):
· Per a 2007 survey conducted by ASA of individuals with ASD and their families, 35% had been a victim of a crime and 23% “had interactions with first responders due to wandering or eloping”.
· First responders must understand that autism is a spectrum disorder and all individuals effected with ASD have different levels of verbal capability, cognitive skills, and may respond differently to varying environmental stimuli.
· Education of law enforcement and first responders is imperative and improves ability to provide effective interactions.
Other supporting research:
· A study conducted by Cashin and Newman (2009) in Australia found that being in custodial confines and adhering to regimes and routes is very difficult for individuals with autism; even when detained for short periods they are often targets of bullying and mistreatment (pp. 71-74).
· According to Farley et al (2009) studying law enforcement and outcomes of adults with autism, 34% of higher functioning participants [who were now adults] had previous interactions with law enforcement due to an actual infraction, or misinterpretation due to a communication issue with the individual with autism (p. 114).
· Per Britton and Taylor (2010) in an article on the Operation Autism (A Resource Guide for Military Families), parents of children with autism fear their child will get lost and not be able to communicate effectively for their own safety–they cannot differentiate between safe and unsafe situations, follow instructions consistently, or have the ability to defend himself; they suggest in addition to securing homes and yards, notifying law enforcement and neighbors, registering child with national registry and having identification, the family should also consider the following: plan ahead for family outings and vacations and teaching child functional skills.