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AWAARE Collaboration

Autism Resources

Understanding the AWAARE Collaboration in Maine

Autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder, presents a myriad of challenges for affected individuals and their families. One of the most pressing concerns for many families is wandering or elopement, where an individual with autism might leave the safety of a supervised environment. This behavior can lead to potentially dangerous situations, including traffic incidents, getting trapped in confined spaces, or even drowning. Recognizing the gravity of this issue, various organizations have come together to form the AWAARE Collaboration, aiming to address and mitigate the risks associated with wandering in the autism community.

Wandering & Autism

Wandering, also known as elopement, refers to the tendency of an individual to leave the safety of a responsible person’s care or a secure area, potentially leading to harm or injury. While this behavior is considered common and short-lived in toddlers, it may persist or re-emerge in individuals with autism. According to research, nearly half of children with autism are at risk of wandering away from a safe setting. Given that people with autism can be particularly vulnerable to dangerous situations, such as drowning or traffic incidents, it becomes imperative to take critical precautions. Notably, drowning fatalities and traffic injuries are leading causes of wandering-related deaths.

The reasons behind wandering or elopement can vary. Often, it’s a form of communication. An individual might wander to reach something of interest or to move away from something they find bothersome, such as noise, commotion, fears, phobias, or demands. These impulses can intensify with added anxiety and stress, especially if the person struggles with coping, calming, or regulating their emotions. Early signs of this exit-seeking behavior can manifest in toddlerhood, characterized by behaviors like social or demand avoidance, moving unnoticed to a different area of a building or home, bolting when upset, or seeking out quiet places like water bodies.

AWAARE Collaboration in Maine

In Maine, the AWAARE Collaboration has been instrumental in providing resources and support to families and caregivers dealing with wandering concerns. The Autism Society of Maine, for instance, offers quick links to wandering safety resources, including tracking technology and safety materials tailored for parents, caregivers, and first responders. These resources aim to equip caregivers with the tools and knowledge they need to prevent wandering incidents and ensure the safety of their loved ones.

The AWAARE Collaboration’s efforts in Maine and beyond underscore the importance of collective action in addressing wandering incidents within the autism community. By pooling resources, expertise, and experiences, the collaboration seeks to create a safer environment for individuals with autism and provide peace of mind for their families.

The challenges posed by wandering or elopement in the autism community cannot be understated. The potential risks are grave, and the emotional toll on families is immense. However, with initiatives like the AWAARE Collaboration, there is hope. By bringing together organizations, experts, and caregivers, the collaboration offers a beacon of support and guidance for those navigating the complexities of autism and wandering.

In Maine, the AWAARE Collaboration’s efforts are making a tangible difference. Resources, ranging from safety materials to tracking technology, are being made available to those who need them most. As we move forward, it’s crucial to continue supporting and amplifying such initiatives. After all, every step taken towards ensuring the safety of individuals with autism is a step towards a more inclusive and understanding society.

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