Accidental drowning: Autism poses special risks

The fear of a child wandering off afflicts every parent, but that fear can be all-encompassing for the parents of children with autism. A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics shows that nearly half of all children with autism are prone to wandering — also called eloping or bolting — away from caretakers and towards objects of fascination, which for many children is water. The results are often tragic: Between 2009 and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91 percent of all wandering-related deaths among autistic children in America under the age of 14. This is a startlingly high rate of preventable deaths, and it should serve as a call to action for state and municipal governments.

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