No one really wants to think about the possibility of losing their child through wandering or otherwise but it is a reality that many of us face. With this in mind I wanted to give you a couple of quick resources that I found to help you get started in case of an emergency. Many of you know my son wandered off 4 years ago now and we were very fortunate that he was found safely. (You can read my posts about it here and here.)
First and foremost, I would highly encourage you to set up a meeting with your local law enforcement and local Fire/EMS departments as well. It would be very beneficial for your child to meet and become familiar with their faces and uniforms and for the First Responders to be familiar with your child in the even of any emergency (accident, fire, etc.). Children can be intimidated by them so it is crucial that they understand they are there to help!
If you need some assistance in that area please check out what Jerry, a New Jersey Police Officer and father of an Autistic boy, has to say. You can see his page here and his blog here. He wrote two amazing posts about wandering and police contact that you simply must see that he wrote for Autism After 16.
AWAARE has many awesome tools and is loaded with information to help families and first responders. You can access their website here. They do have the Big Red Toolbox but they have digital tool boxes as well. I would definitely check out their Wandering Brochure for information about wandering and tips you can use to prevent wandering and to prevent a tragedy in case wandering does occur. You can access the brochure here.
To help you stay organized in your planning you can use the Caregiver Checklist here.
The first one I want to toss out there is a Family Wandering Emergency Plan. It can be used for any family member who may wander off. It helps you prepare ahead of time in case your child wanders off so that you know what to do. It allows you to come up with search areas and people to search those areas, emergency phone numbers, what to provide when you call 911, and it gives you other numbers such as NCMEC.
This form can be found here.
The second form is for you to give first responders and is an Autism Elopement Alert form. This form is used by those first responders to give them identifying information, a photo, and areas where your child may be found. It includes medical diagnosis, medications, if they are verbal or non-verbal, their preferred method of communication, etc. This form will help pull much needed information together in one spot to aide in helping your child be found quickly. Take this form when you go to meet them!
This form can be found here.
You can find all of their safety materials including the toolbkits for Caregivers and First Responders here.
**Editor’s note: This is meant to get you started. Please talk to your local Autism groups and First Responders to get additional safety and preparedness tips and resources for your child.**