Nearly half of all parents of children with autism reported that their children had attempted to wander off at least once, according to a new study appearing in the journal Pediatrics.
The study surveyed 1,367 families with children age 4-17 who had autism.
Nearly 600 children had attempted to wander off and 316 of the children were gone long enough for parents to become concerned, the study found.
This is of concern because the wandering behavior can lead to dangerous and even deadly situations, such as traffic accidents and drowning. Most of the parents reported that the wandering child had left in order to go somewhere specific — the child was not just lost or confused.
Of parents whose children wandered, 62 percent said the behavior had prevented the family from being able to enjoy or attend certain activities.
Fifty-six percent of the parents said the wandering behavior was the most stressful aspect of raising a child with autism.