Drowning, wandering big concerns for parents of children with autism

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – According to research, 50 percent of children with autism wander.  It's common, dangerous and stressful for families.

"Sometimes there are children who like to run... whether they're exploring the area or just don't understand safety issues yet. Sometimes when children get older they like to wander and they might still not understand safety issues such as street signs and what they mean or strangers and stranger danger," said Board Certified Behavior Analyst Lindsay Chapman.

When water is around, wandering can become lethal.  Drowning is the leading cause of death for children with autism.

"Children who love water and who love to play in water and that can be a fun sensory activity but if they don't understand, a lake is deep, or pools and pool safety -- that can be scary for parents as well," said Chapman.  "What if my child wanders into a pool and goes into the deep end, or falls in and slips?"

Chapman encourages parents to invest in locks and special technology that alert you when your child is immersed in water. With summer approaching, Chapman says talk to your neighborhood now so everyone can work together to keep your child safe.

"If you have a community pool, make sure the homeowners association is aware, whoever is charge of the clubhouse is aware.  Making sure , it's Autism Awareness Month so let's make the neighborhood aware, let's make the community aware.  Let's talk about these issues," said Chapman.

For more information about drowning prevention, click here.

For more resources about autism, visit Madison Behavior Therapy.