As a parent, it is not hard to imagine the fear and panic that sets in when a child goes missing. Where to look, who to call and the police at your door are all quick and common thoughts for any parent of any child, but what if that child also has Asperger’s Syndrome?
In a recent episode of NBC’s ‘Parenthood’, Max decides he is tired of waiting to go to the museum after his parents break a promise to take him. He decides to make the bus, BART and walk trip by himself, creating panic within the family. This is frightening enough for any parent, but when the child has Asperger’s there is an entirely different level of concern due to the child having neither the usual respect for strangers nor a developed situational fear of danger that keeps most kids out of harm’s way.
Each year across the country, children and adults with autism spectrum disorders go missing from their families. Many of these events end with a happy reunion of family and friends who are relieved that everything is alright. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and sometimes the fear turns to grief and mourning for the family.
Max passed person after person on the street and no one helped him, or even understood that he needed help. The situation could have very easily escalated into something terrible and it shows just how important it is for each and every person to help build awareness in their community about autism spectrum disorders.
It is recommended that children who have autism spectrum disorders and who are prone to wandering, are non-verbal, or would have problems communicating during an emergency, wear medical ID bracelets or pendant. The child’s medical ID should include their name, their condition, and at least one emergency contact’s name and telephone number.