One third of kids diagnosed with autism wander away from protected environments, two new studies have found.

More specifically, children aged 6 to 17 years old with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are more likely to go away from a safe surrounding during the past year of the study.

"Elopement, or wandering, places children with autism spectrum disorders at risk of serious injury or even death once they are away from adult supervision," says senior study author Andrew Adesman from Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

Focus On Elopement

Although elopement has been recognized as a key factor in the safety of children diagnosed with ASDs, investigations that tackle elopement are quite limited.

In the recent studies, the team found that kids who wander are more than twice as prone to run away from a public place than to their house or school.

Study principal author Bridget Kiely says that as the number of ASDs in the U.S. persist to increase, it is required for experts to better comprehend the behavioral characteristics that may put the safety and welfare of the kids on the line.

Dangers And Consequences

The results of the research showed that those who wander were more likely to be unaware if they are faced with a dangerous situation, to face challenges in identifying familiar individuals versus strangers, to express abrupt mood swings, to get angry easily and to become distressed in new situations or in the midst of changes.

The Study

The study involved 1,420 kids diagnosed with ASDs, intellectual deficiency or developmental lag. The data came from parent and guardian interviews made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the study, however, the researchers focused on children with ASDs.

The study results emphasize the urgent need to determine more efficient methods to avoid possible accidents or tragedies associated with wandering or elopement.

The studies were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Baltimore.

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