Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - July 20, 2018.  


Trump now wants Putin to visit the White House this fall; Also on the Friday rundown: health insurance rates to rise by almost 9 percent in California; and as the climate crises reaches “Zero Hour” young people take a stand.

Daily Newscasts

Wandering Dangers Highlighted During Autism Awareness Month

PHOTO: April is Autism Awareness Month, and efforts are underway to build support for Avonte's Law, a Senate bill that would help reduce the risk of injury and death from autism-related wandering. Photo credit: Erdene Bayar/Morguefile.
PHOTO: April is Autism Awareness Month, and efforts are underway to build support for Avonte's Law, a Senate bill that would help reduce the risk of injury and death from autism-related wandering. Photo credit: Erdene Bayar/Morguefile.
April 6, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. - Nearly half of all children on the autism spectrum are believed to engage in wandering, a behavior that can end in tragedy.

The U.S. Senate is considering a bill known as Avonte's Law, which would provide funding for police departments to purchase equipment that can help locate people with autism who go missing.

Wendy Fournier, president with the National Autism Association, says those with autism typically wander to something of interest – or they flee an overwhelming environment.

"Noises, lights, people and hearing five different conversations at the same time," she says. "That kind of stuff can be magnified for people on the spectrum. A lot of times the only thing they can do is run away. That's the only way they can get any relief from that sensory overload."

Avonte's Law is named after a 14-year-old with autism whose body was discovered in a river three months after he ran away from his New York City school.

Fournier says due to challenges with communication and safety awareness, children or adults with autism can end up in dangerous situations when they wander. According to the Autism Society of North Carolina, the prevalence rate of autism in North Carolina is one out of every 58 children, which is higher than the national average of one in 68.

Fournier says the legislation also calls for training for law enforcement agencies to better recognize and respond to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"It's really easy for a person with a communication disorder to come across as being uncooperative to the police," she says. "So police really need some training to start recognizing autism and other cognitive disorders."

Fournier says parents are encouraged to implement measures that can prevent wandering, including security alerts on doors and I.D. bracelets, or tracking devices for their child. She says swimming lessons are also crucial.

"About 90 percent of the kids who die following a wandering incident die from drowning," says Fournier. "Our kids are very, very attracted to water. So we recommend that everybody teach their child, make sure they know how to swim."

April is Autism Awareness Month.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC