Monday, April 25, 2011

Wandering Awareness and Safety

Hello All and now that spring has sprung in most parts in the northern part of our globe, many scouting troops, packs and crews will be heading out for lots of adventure. For our friends in down under and destinations south, it is time for you to enjoy your fall and winter time.

Last week, after we had finished with our youngest sons IEP, in the evening we went to an Autism Support group meeting in which many topics were addressed but one caught my attention and a lot of time was spent it during the meeting. It was a topic that I have had questions about at Autism and Scouting which I knew very little about. After that support meeting, I had a place to go to refer people to. The topic was Autism and Wandering.

I have heard stories of scouts with Autism wandering and in a camping situation, it can be very dangerous and a source of concern for parents and leaders when working with a scout with autism that has this issue.

My wife does a blog called Aspierations - Come as you are... Let your light shine! She is an Aspie herself and promotes acceptance in her blog and has been blogging all month on different topics relating to Autism.  She did blog a few days after the meeting and I wanted to share her blog here. With her permission, this is what she wrote. It doesn't deal directly with the issue, I have plans to write about that in the coming days but it is a great starting point to learn more about this topic.

Please let us know if you find it helpful and come join the Autism and Scouting Facebook group if you have not already done so.

Autism Wandering Safety Information & Kit from AWAARE 

by Karen Krejcha at Aspierations - Come as you are... Let your light shine!

Hi Aspierations Friends,

If you read my blog last night, you might remember that after our youngest son's IEP meeting, we attended our Autism Support Group meeting at his preschool a couple hours later.

The primary topic of the night was safety and one of the resources passed out was a Family Wandering Emergency Plan worksheet from the AWAARE Collaboration.  Although I've been to hundreds of autism related websites, this was one I had not seen before and I'm happy to be sharing it with you now because the resources on the site are informational, easy to understand and important to be aware of and relay to your family, friends and neighbors.

The Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education (AWAARE) Collaboration is a working group of six national non-profit autism organizations whose mission is to reduce autism-related wandering issues and deaths.  Wandering can happen at all ages. 

Having a youngest who is prone to bolt and wander and an oldest who when involved in a special interest is not as aware of his surroundings, I have had many nightmares about worst case scenarios.  It only takes a couple seconds for a child to wander off and even if your child isn't known to be a wanderer, it only takes one time for something bad to happen.  

AWAARE helps empower you to take action as a family by using preventative measures in advance but in case a family wandering emergency does happen, you will have a plan in place.  

This free Family Wandering Emergency Plan can be printed directly from the AWAARE website.

They also have a great Frequently Asked Questions page.  One of the most common questions is:

Why would a child or adult with autism wander off?  Their answer:

Many reasons. Mainly, a person with autism will wander to either get to something or away from something. Like dementia, persons with autism gravitate towards items of interest. This could be anything from a road sign they once saw to a neighbor’s pool to a merry-go-round in the park. Other times, they may want to escape an environment if certain sounds or other sensory input becomes bothersome. Outdoor gatherings present an especially large problem because it is assumed that there are more eyes on the child or adult with autism. However, heavy distractions coupled with an over-stimulating setting can lead to a child or adult wandering off without notice. School settings are also an issue, especially those that have un-fenced or un-gated playgrounds. A new, unfamiliar, or unsecured environment, such as a relative’s home, may also trigger wandering, as well as episodes of distress, meltdowns, or times when a child or adult with autism has certain fears or anxiety.

AWAARE also has a link on their website to the Big Red Safety Box program, a free resource (based on certain qualifying terms and conditions) provided through the National Autism Association through a generous grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.  

Contents of the Big Red Safety Box include the following resources:

1) Educational materials and tools:

   -   A caregiver checklist
   -   A Family Wandering Emergency Plan
   -   A first-responder profile form
   -   A wandering-prevention brochure
   -   A sample IEP Letter

2) Two (2) GE Door Alarms

3) One (1) Who’s Shoe ID

4) Five (5) Laminated Adhesive Stop Sign Visual Prompts for doors and windows

We ordered ours tonight.  There is a limit to one per family. I am not sure if it is USA specific. To get more information, please visit:

Keeping kids and adults on the autism spectrum safe can be a lot easier when we empower ourselves with resources and tools to do so.  Please feel free to pass along this information to anyone you know who might find it of interest.

When we let our light shine, we help shine a light on others as well!

Thank you so much for coming back and I hope the information was helpful.  
Here is the Link again: 
I will be doing a follow-up to this blog shortly on how it relates directly to scouting.  
 Thank you so much for coming back and I hope the information was helpful. 

 Support a Scout


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