Autism and Wandering

According to survey data published in the journal Pediatrics, nearly half of families reported their children with autism wandered or eloped from safe environments. And more than a third of the children who wandered were unable to communicate their name and/or address. Finding and safely recovering a missing child with autism presents unique and difficult challenges for families, law enforcement, first responders and search teams. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has special search protocols and checklists to help first responders.

Children with autism go missing under a variety of circumstances. They may seek out small or enclosed spaces. They may wander toward places of special interest to them. Or they may try to escape overwhelming stimuli such as sights, sounds, surroundings or activities of others.

Children with autism often have an extremely high attraction to water. Because of this we strongly recommend first responders and search teams immediately check all nearby bodies of water in an effort to head-off the child. These bodies of water include but are not limited to streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks, storm-water retention/detention basins and swimming pools.


Children with autism may exhibit other interests that pose similar dangers such as:

Heavy equipment.
Fire trucks.
Roadway signs.
Bright lights.
Traffic signals.
Immediate response

When a child with autism goes missing, it is important to quickly identify any unique interests the child has and create a list of their favorite places. First responders should talk to anyone who knows the child well to ask for information about any interests, stimulations or obsessions the child may have. This information could provide key clues leading to a safe recovery.

As with all critically missing children, time is a vitally important factor in a safe recovery. Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to contact us at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) for additional assistance and resources, including search-and-rescue experts who immediately deploy to provide recommendations and technical assistance in cases of critically missing children.

Safety Net Tracking System




SafetyNet formed in 2008 to help public safety agencies bring loved ones — who wander – home safely. The service utilizes proven Radio Frequency technology and works directly with law enforcement and other public safety agencies to help rescue individuals with autism, Alzheimer’s, dementia and other similar cognitive conditions who have wandered and become lost.

SafetyNet Tracking™ Service is currently available in 18 states located across the country and it has assisted public safety with many successful rescues since its inception.

Missing Crawford Teen and her baby

CRAWFORD COUNTY (KFSM) — Crawford County deputies said they are in the process of calling in a child abduction response team for a missing and endangered 17-year-old mother and her 1-year-old daughter.Deputies said Emma Crippen and her daughter, Stacie Sperka went missing about 12 p.m. in the Mountainburg area on Wednesday (Feb. 22).Investigators said they may be in the company of Brandon Sperka and the two may be in danger.Investigators also said they are most likely traveling in a silver Kia Optima with Kansas license plate 142HCN.

Crawford County Deputies Searching For Missing Mom And Daughter