The Holidays & Autism: Challenges During the Holiday Season for Children Who Tend to Wander

Helpful information for those of us with children that are prone to wandering off.

The holiday season can be a particularly challenging time for both children with autism and their families. The value of planning for the holidays cannot be overestimated for those with sensory sensitivities, who thrive on routine, and are easily disoriented. The holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average household is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. The stores are brightly lit, excessively noisy with holiday music and busy with shoppers rushing in every direction. All of these sudden and dramatic changes for a child on the spectrum can easily create a sensory overload, making the holidays a difficult time for both the child with autism and their parents.

These parents need our support and encouragement because they are humans that have been given an assignment intended for saints. Autism affects each individual differently and at different levels of severity. The following statistics helps us to better understand why thoughtfully planning for the holidays is so important.

  • 1 out of 91 children has been diagnosed Autistic
  • 92% of Autistic children wander
  • The number one cause of death among Autistic children that wander is drowning

Remember, there is no right or wrong answers and what works for one family may not work for another. But by reducing or eliminating potential triggers for wandering and adding an effective program to quickly locate and rescue individuals who tend to wander, you will keep your child safe and give yourself the peace of mind you deserve.

Project Lifesaver International is the premier organization nation-wide providing law enforcement and first responders with the training and technology to quickly find individuals with cognitive disorders who have wandered. Following the signal from a small transmitter placed on the patient, first responders from “Member Agencies” who have been trained and certified by Project Lifesaver quickly track to the location of the wanderer. Recovery times for individuals in the Project Lifesaver program averages 30 minutes, compared to nine hours for individuals without a tracking system. To date Project Lifesaver’s success rate is 100%.

Photo: .imelda/Flickr

About Melissa

Melissa is the mother of two children on the autism spectrum and strives to provide information about all aspects of autism through her blog, The Autism Education Site. Follow Melissa on Twitter. Like me on Facebook.

© Melissa Hincha-Ownby and The Autism Education Site, 2008-2014.