Preliminary Results from Survey on Autism and Wandering

Earlier this month, we urged parents to participate in a survey about autism sponsored by the Interactive Autism Network.  The survey aimed to study and understand wandering behavior among children and adults with autism.

In just three weeks, the Interactive Autism Network has received 856  survey participants, primarily parents with children who are autistic.  Preliminary data from the survey, focusing just on children, was released this week in the report, ”IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering.”  IAN discovered that about 50% of kids with autism attempted to wander off between the ages of 4 to 10 and about 30% continued to wander between ages 7 to 10.  Half of the parents had kids who wandered off long enough to cause significant worry and concern.  Plus, about 35% of the kids were  rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number.  

The survey also reported 58% of the parents ranked wandering as the most stressful behavior related to autism, and 64% were prevented from pursuing family activities because of the wandering.  Only 19% of the parents have  received guidance from a psychologist or mental health professional while only 14% have received guidance from a pediatrician or physician.

A high number of parents (67%) also reported they didn’t see any seasonal pattern with wandering, and the top 5 reasons (in order) they believed wandering happened was because their kids: enjoyed exploring, liked to visit a favorite place, wanted to escape demands and anxieties, wanted to pursue a special topic, and wanted to escape sensory discomforts.  Read the full report of the preliminary results at Interactive Autism Network.

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