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Running Away: Autism and Elopement

Photo © Gonsalo Gomes | Creative Commons / Flickr [image: Sepia-toned photo of a small child with short dark hair, seen from behind, running.] Marie Porter www.celebrationgeneration.com In an effort to raise a bit more “AutismAwareness,” I’d like to discuss “elopement.” I invite other autistics to add in their own experiences in the comments—this could be educational! But as far as what I’m about to say, I’m really just speaking to my own experience and thoughts. First, I’d like to say that “elopement” is a ridiculous term. Right up there with “differently abled,” IMHO. It’s running away. It’s wandering. Call it what it is! Secondly—and this is in response to an “autism warrior mom” who recently came at me to defend ABA—no one “dies from elopement,” just like no one dies from “running away.” Yes, there are all kinds of ways that one can meet their end running away, but those…

On Autism and Wandering: We Need Data

Though wandering or “elopement” is not a safety concern exclusive to the autism community, it is a hot topic due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposal to make wandering a medical diagnostic code. While those behind the proposal argue that codifying and diagnosing wandering will lead to increased data and a better understanding of prevalence, critics worry that a medical diagnosis for wandering could lead to involuntary restraint and abuse of vulnerable autistics. At the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, part of our mission is to support good science, and that starts with good data. With this in mind, we interviewed two advocates of the Interactive Autism Network (IAN)’s survey on wandering and elopement (escaping) among individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD): Lori, whose son Connor has autism and for whom wandering is a serious safety issue; and Dr. Paul Law, Director of the Interactive Autism…