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Author Notes:

Reprint requests: Catherine E. Rice, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322. cerice@emory.edu

We thank the parents who have called attention to wandering.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, Emory University, the University of Washington, or the National Institute of Mental Health.


Research Funding:

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health with funds available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) (Public Law 111-5).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Pediatrics

Reported Wandering Behavior among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual Disability


Journal Title:

Journal of Pediatrics


Volume 174


, Pages 232-239

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Objective To characterize wandering, or elopement, among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability. Study design Questions on wandering in the previous year were asked of parents of children with ASD with and without intellectual disability and children with intellectual disability without ASD as part of the 2011 Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services. The Pathways study sample was drawn from the much larger National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs conducted in 2009-2010. Results For children with special healthcare needs diagnosed with either ASD, intellectual disability, or both, wandering or becoming lost during the previous year was reported for more than 1 in 4 children. Wandering was highest among children with ASD with intellectual disability (37.7%) followed by children with ASD without intellectual disability (32.7%), and then children with intellectual disability without ASD (23.7%), though the differences between these groups were not statistically significant. Conclusions This study affirms that wandering among children with ASD, regardless of intellectual disability status, is relatively common. However, wandering or becoming lost in the past year was also reported for many children with intellectual disability, indicating the need to broaden our understanding of this safety issue to other developmental disabilities.

Copyright information:

© 2016 Elsevier Inc.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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