What Everybody Ought to Know About Wandering and Autism

BY: - 22 Jul '14 | Parenting

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Facing Autism on BMWK

Whenever an individual with autism wanders and goes missing, the autism community rallies around that family. We do what we can to get the word out and we do it with an urgency that screams, I KNOW WHAT IS AT STAKE!

Despite your support for families affected by wandering, it will not hit home for you until it happens to you. When you have shared the flyers and sent out your tweets, you will still get under your covers at night knowing that your child is safe.

Recently, my sense of security was shattered when my son disappeared for a few minutes while we were at an amusement park. My mind immediate thought of the beach nearby and how obsessed he had been with the water from the moment we arrived. I don’t know how I would’ve survived if anything had happened to him.

As his mom, it is my duty to keep him safe. And in those brief moments, I felt like a failure. When I shared what had happened with other autism parents, I realized that my story was not unique. That is a scary thought. So many parents had gone through terrifying moments, sometimes hours, of not knowing where their child had wandered of to.

According to the AWAARE Collaboration, “wandering is the tendency for an individual to try to leave the safety of a responsible person’s care or a safe area, which can result in potential harm or injury. This might include running off from adults at school or in the community, leaving the classroom without permission, or leaving the house when the family is not looking.”

They also state that nearly half of individuals with autism wander. This is a scary fact. A fact that autism families know too well. It is scary because it can end in death and frankly no parent should have to bury their child.

It can happen to even the most vigilant family. I know when these incidents happen people ignorantly ask why parents can’t just watch their kids. It is not that simple. It is impossible for any human being to keep their eyes on another person 24/7. If you know someone who is able to do this, please let me know.

If your child wanders, here are some items that need to be on your to-do list:

  • Have it noted on your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). This holds the school and school district accountable.
  • Teach your child how to swim.
  • Get your child a tracking device.
  • Take your child’s fingerprints.
  • Include additional identification methods that can help someone contact you if your child is found. Example: shoe tags, ID bracelets or chains, ID cards, etc.
  • Make sure you have added support when you travel with your child. This can include support staff or even a family member.

For more information on wandering and how you can keep your child safe, please visit the AWAARE Collaboration’s Web site.

BMWK: Does your child wander? What strategies do you use to keep your child safe?

About the author

Kpana Kpoto wrote 38 articles on this blog.

Kpana Kpoto, also known as Miz Kp, is a special needs advocate and blogger. She provides resources and support for autism parents through her blog, Sailing Autistic Seas and her support group, Bronx Parents Autism Support Circle. Kpana lives in New York City with her husband and only child, six-year old "Angel" who is conquering autism one milestone at a time.


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One thought on “What Everybody Ought to Know About Wandering and Autism

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6 Simple Tips for Avoiding Summertime Slump

BY: - 23 Jul '14 | Parenting

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We all enjoy the lazy days of summer. No homework. No buses. Lighter traffic. Yesss! But, we have to remember that for every day that our kids do absolutely nothing educational, a part of every lesson they were taught and concept they learned can be lost. Let’s be proactive and NOT depend on the beginning of the next school year for reviews and playing “catch up”. Let’s stay afloat during our Summer break and keep it as stress-free as possible.

Here are 6 simple tips for avoiding the summertime slump…while having fun!

1. Summer Reading – Most schools have a Summer Reading list that requires them to read a few books and report what they’ve read. Add your own incentive and make it competitive if you have more than one child. “The first one to finish all of the books gets….” or “Whomever finishes their book first gets…” I’m even joining the challenge with my kids to stay accountable.

2. Make it Fun – Do a strength and weakness assessment from their report card and create your own fun. Weaker in math? Grab them some math workbooks and print out a certificate for their completion! Depending on their age, you might want to go the dollar store and grab some stickers for morale and excitement.  Science an issue? Summer PLUS outdoor fun is the PERFECT combination for science experiments. The internet is filed with tons of outdoor ideas and activities that make learning fun!

3. Be creative – If your kids have a handheld device, then use it! Download a ton of grade-appropriate educational apps to keep their concepts fresh. Younger kids? Give them one printable fun page (coloring, connect the dots, etc.) and one learning page…and a timer. Kids  always love to beat the clock! Add a stopwatch and see what happens! Older kids? They love to show us that they’re smarter than we are. Join them in a game of online Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit or knowledge-testing game. Great time for bonding, too!

4. Have a Spelling Bee – Call me a nerd,  but this is still fun for me. Start easy, then slowly make it more challenging! Turn of the TV, put away the devices and go!

5. Reality Check – Now, this one is for older kids. This will incorporate math and social studies. We did this last Summer and this year, we’ll put a spin on it for this Summer. Have your child begin researching their future and report their findings to you. This may take them a couple of days. Have them:

  1. Research what GPA and SAT score is needed to attend their favorite college, along with the cost of tuition.
  2. Research the salary for the career in which they would like to study/major.
  3. Calculate the costs involved in owning a car, home, food and entertainment. (My son was amazed at how broke he would be, based on how lavishly he wanted to live!)

After their discovery, have a talk with them about how they plan to make these plans a reality.

6. Take them shopping – Give your kid a calculator when you go grocery shopping and let them calculate the prices of your items and taxes (quick lesson on the significance of taxes).

Do whatever it takes to keep your kids thinking and excited about learning, even if it means you have get in there with them. Let’s commit to creating lifetime lovers of learning. Enjoy the rest of your Summer!

BMWK, How are you keeping your kids on track for next year?

About the author

Sheree Adams wrote 117 articles on this blog.

Sheree is a wife and WAHM of three who passionately blogs about marriage, family, health tips and more as Smart & Sassy Mom. Sheree is committed to helping blended families and keeping marriages strong, healthy, fun and SPICY!


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