(July 9, 2014) -- The body of a five-year-old Missouri boy with autism who wandered from his family's home in Harrisonville was found drowned in a neighbor's pond yesterday, shortly after his family reached out to the Cass County Sheriff’s Department to report that he was missing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to these child's family and friends.
Also yesterday a 13-year-old with autism, Jonah Walpole, nearly drowned in his family pool, in Rochester, NY. Thankfully, his father is a nurse and was able to perform CPR until paramedics arrived.
Since launching our partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in late January, Autism Speaks and NCMEC have collaborated on over 75 active autism wandering incidents, offering assistance to local first responders, and increasing critical awareness at the community level. But these incidents are just the two latest signs of the critical need for further first responder training. Since 2011, over 50 individuals with autism have died after wandering in the United States. The police on the scene in cases like these must understand the need to search water first.
As part of our partnership with NCMEC we are helping to address autism wandering incidents. Visit this page to find out how to report an active case of wandering. Find Autism Speaks resources to help prevent wandering here. You can also find our Swimming & Water Safety Grants page here.