While Tom's runaway ways were problemmatic in the school setting (and at malls and grocery stores), he never attempted to leave our home. In this, I've learned, we were remarkably lucky.
In just the past few months, there have been several stories of children and even adults with autism who simply walked or ran away from their homes and schools - and disappeared. In some cases, the autistic runaway was found within hours or days; in other cases the outcome was far more tragic.
It's not clear why people with autism "elope;" in some cases it may be because of anxiety or frustration - but in other cases there's no obvious reason. No matter what the cause, though, the reality is that families of "elopers" are always on edge, worried about the safety of their loved one on the autism spectrum.
Dennis Debbault is a specialist in helping members of the autism and law enforcement communities to manage safety and law enforcement issues. I interviewed Dennis for several articles; this one deals specifically with preventing, preparing for and handling autistic runaways.
Have you dealt with (or been) an autistic runaway? Can you shed any light on what sets off this dangerous behavior - or how to prepare for, manage or prevent it?