PHYSICIANS AND THERAPISTS
Autism, now affecting an estimated 1 in 110
children, is a diagnosis that represents many
symptoms, some of which can lead to serious health
and safety risks, even death.
In 2008, Danish researchers found that the mortality
rate among the autism population is twice as high as
the general population. In 2001, a California
research team attributed elevated death rates in
large part to drowning. Drowning, prolonged
exposure, and other wandering-related factors remain
among the top causes of death within the autism
Currently, no estimates exist and no formal methods
are in place to track how many children and adults
wander per year, but in a 2007 online poll through
the National Autism Association, 92% of parents
reported that their child/ren with autism have a
tendency to wander.
As a medical professional, it’s important to
familiarize yourself with the dangers of
autism-related wandering, as well as share
prevention and safety information with caregivers.
Prevention materials, including this
can be printed and sent electronically to
caregivers. Other sections of this site, such as
cover many aspects
of prevention, response and
Anyone with a child or adult with autism should be
given the option to fill out a first-responder
Family Wandering Emergency
An ICD-9 diagnosis code is now available for wandering. Please assign code V40.31 – Wandering in diseases classified elsewhere to your patients who qualify. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/code.html
Because many caregivers remain unaware of risk factors, spreading the word about autism-related wandering and providing resources to patients their families could prevent incidents.
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