Search and Rescue

When a person has gone missing, it is the Search and Rescue team that will be out trying to bring them to safety. If this search team is looking for and finds a person with autism, they will need to approach them using different skills and tactics than the ones they may use in ordinary situations.

If these teams are armed with information and skills, both from consultation with the missing persons family and from professional training, they will be able to better ensure the safety of the individual. Additionally, knowing how this individual may respond, or where they may have gone will ensure the timely and safe return of this person to their family.

Quick Facts for Search and Rescue Professionals

  • Make sure you understand the degree of autism you of the missing person. It will make a difference in interacting with the person when located.
  • Find out if there has been anything that has attracted the attention of the person within the past 24 hrs. Have they been obsessed with a location or object, at a location, within that time.
  • Do not expect the person to reply if you are calling their name. You’ll most likely have to make visual contact to locate them. On many of the searches we have had, the person has hidden from search teams.
  • Check any location that has water, such as, pools, ponds, lakes, rivers, et al. immediately. These are points of attraction for those with autism.
  • Remember that someone with autism will, most likely, not experience fear , as we do. Don’t discount searching any location.

- Saunders, G. (2009), Project Lifesaver Websitewww.projectlifesaver.org

Resources for Search and Rescue Professionals

Project Lifesaver 
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 
Disaster Preparedness for People on the Autism Spectrum and their Supporters

Need Help?
Autism Response Team Chat
There are no available agents at the moment. You can also reach the Autism Response Team by phone or email: 888-288-4762, en Espanol 888-772-7050, or familyservices@autismspeaks.org.