Television station WITN in Eastern Virginian recently reported, "A missing autistic 3-year-old girl is safe after wandering off at a family reunion in Halifax.The Halifax County Sheriff's Office says April Eubanks had been missing since around 9:30 Friday morning. The Halifax County Sheriff's Office, firefighters, and volunteers searched the area near Andrew Jackson School for the girl and found her around 2:00 p.m. along the banks of the Roanoke River, just a few blocks from where she disappeared.”
This near tragic story reminds us of the importance of taking precautions to prevent your child from wandering off, and if that happens, quickly finding her or him before the worst happens. There are also avoidable dangers at home and in the neighborhood that deserve your attention.
Very little work has been done in abduction safety training for children with autism. One study by Gunby et. al. (2010) Teaching abduction prevention skills to children with autism. In J. Appl. Behav. Anal. 43:107-112 demonstrated one method that was effective with three 6-8 year olds who had a history of having been previously trained to follow adult verbal instructions.
At the very least, every child with autism should wear a Medical Alert Bracelet or tag woven into their shoe laces with their name, diagnosis and phone number to be called if they are found. There is a large number of such sites on line, such as Hope Paige https://www.hopepaige.com/
At the high end there are several GPS child locating devices, usually similar to a wrist watch, which can cost as much as $200 plus a yearly service charge. It may be possible to use Waiver funds for such purposes in some localities. http://www.locationbasedgps.com/categories/Autism/
Some states provide Amber Alert announcements for lost children with autism http://autismamberalert.blogspot.com/2011/06/emfinders-bracelets-for-missing-ohio.html
Around home or the park, the Safety Turtle is a good idea which sets off an alarm if the child falls into water, such as a swimming pool. http://www.safetyturtle.com/
Autism Speaks’ Autism Safety Project website contains numerous resources to help in planning you're your child’s safety. http://www.autismsafetyproject.org/site/c.kuIVKgMZIxF/b.5058283/k.BE40/Home.htm
The Autism Society of America has a Safe and Sound Task Force chaired by Judge Kimberly S. Taylor is a good resource for autism safety suggestions. http://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/how-we-can-help/safe-and-sound/safe-and-sound-task-force.html
Better safe than sorry. Have fun, but asy they say, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.