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Autism Speaks' President Liz Feld Talks Avonte's Law on ABC New York

January 25, 2015

Autism Speaks' President, Liz Feld, and Senior Vice President of Medical Research, Dr. Paul Wang, appeared on ABC's "Up Close With Diana Williams" to discuss Avonte's Law and the issue of wandering in the autism community.

On October 4, 2013, Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old boy with autism, ran out the door of his school in Long Island City. His disappearance sparked a city-wide search and national headlines about the serious problem of wandering in the autism community.

The case ended in tragedy when police discovered his remains in the East River three months later. His case also spurred a national dialog on wandering and led to a partnership between Autism Speaks and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

Avonte Oquendo's mother, Vanessa Fontaine, attended the State of the Union address on Jan. 21 with Sen. Charles Schumer, who is working to pass Avonte's Law, which would provide voluntary tracking devices for children who tend to wander and expanded support services for their families.

"We need much better safety training for first responders, for school teachers, for people in the community and parents," Feld told Williams.

Watch the segment above and read more about Avonte's Law here

Wandering by children with autism is common, dangerous and puts tremendous stress on families. Autism Speaks provides resources and advice to follow to keep children safe. See 7 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Wandering at Your Child’s School and find more wandering resources here.