Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders tend to wander off more than other children and about half of these children go missing, says a new study.
"It's rooted in the very nature of autism itself. Kids don't have the social skills to check in with their parents, and to have that communication and social bond that most children have when they're approaching a road or at a park," said Dr. Paul Law, senior author of the study, Reuters Health reports.
In the United States, 1 in 88 children, and 1 in every 54 boy, is born with autism according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study included more than 1,200 children diagnosed with ASD and 1,076 of their siblings without the disorder. The study found that 49 percent of children with autism tried to run away at least once after age 4. Between ages 4 and 7, the rate of running away in children with autism was four times higher than in children without autism.
A whopping 65 percent of the children who had run away had close calls with a traffic accident. Around 29 percent of the parents involved in the study said that their child tried to run away often during the day.
"For the last three years, I haven't left his side. When he gets out, he just runs. ... He can be anywhere and he won't answer you," says Cobilynn Dickinson, mother of 4 year old boy who has been diagnosed with autism, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Children with ASD were less likely to be confused and more likely to be comfortable and happy after running away while children with Asperger's syndrome, a type of autism, were more confused and anxious.
"This is not simply a case of parents being remiss in some way regarding their supervision of their children. The child with autism doesn't realize what danger they're putting themselves in. They have a propensity to elope, it seems, regardless of parental care," said Russell Lang from Texas State University-San Marcos, Reuters Health reports. Lang wasn't a part of the study.
The study was published in Pediatrics and was conducted by researchers from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), a project of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.