‘Missing’, ‘wandering’ autistics

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ASPartOfMe
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08 Jun 2022, 8:19 am

Mystery of Grand Rapids man who vanished 30 years ago is part of bigger problem

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The fate of a Grand Rapids man who vanished more than 30 years ago remains a mystery, despite clues, including baseball cards of his favorite players surfacing under a freeway overpass shortly after his disappearance.

Gordon Page Jr. went missing from his group home in 1991. Page was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder earlier that year, and his parents placed him in an established treatment center, according to the Doe Network.

Page's case illustrates the challenges of individuals with autism and their families, as well as the need for resources to address the issue. Not only are people with autism more likely than others to go missing, but their cases also present more risk.

“From our analysis and from our partners at the National Autism Association and Autism Speaks, there are examples of children on the autism spectrum that show they seem to be attracted to bodies of water, roadways, traffic signals, trucks, sirens, and a number of different things for a number of different reasons," said Alan Nanavaty, executive director of the Missing Children's Division at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

A study done by the American Association of Pediatrics concluded that 25-50 percent of children with ASD attempt to "elope," defined as leaving a safe, supervised space and being exposed to potential dangers such as open water and traffic.

Often, this phenomenon occurs due to overstimulation.

"While it's regularly referred to as wandering or eloping, it really is bolting, they just run, they get overstimulated and they run from where they are and then they go missing and it's a matter of trying to find them," said Nanavaty.

Nonetheless, for some families whose children with autism disappear, there is a tragic end.

According to a summary of data by Missing Kids, from 2011-2020, 1,516 children with autism were reported missing to NCMEC. Of those children reported missing, 64 were recovered deceased, with drowning being the cause of death in 84% of those cases.

Roughly 70 percent of actively missing children on the autism spectrum are classified as long-term missing children, meaning they haven't been seen in over six months. The longest missing duration of a recovered child is just under three years. The longest running time one child has remained actively missing is 10 years.

The longer a search continues, the less chance a missing person has on being found alive.

“One of the things that we talk to law enforcement about is to really do a good interview of the caregiver, because they’re gonna know what those triggers are, they’re gonna know what those stimulus are, they’re gonna know what the child is attracted to," said Nanavaty.

There have been few instances where long-term missing children are reunited with their families at last.


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Aspie1
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08 Jun 2022, 9:54 pm

I expect to get a cyber-crapload of rotten tomatoes thrown at me, and maybe a mod warning along with them, but... Has anyone considered that maybe, just maybe, there are autistic persons of all ages who WANT TO escape from "safe" places? :?: :scratch: I mean, most, if not all, "safe" places are sources of misery of autistic persons! So why is it a surprise that some autistic persons want to be the proverbial QAnon, whether or not they know about the real one?

When I was a child, my fantasy was to bolt away from my family during a walk, or away from my classroom during an outdoor recess at school. Then I hoped to join a cohort of fellow vagrants, and have no contact with "civilized" :roll: society until the day I die, except to steal from it. We'd forage, hunt, and fish for food; sleep in random places we'd find, both covertly in "civilized" :roll: venues (like in empty Amtrak stations at night and churches that tolerate vagrants) and openly deep in the wilderness; and trust no one but ourselves. And if I died of dysentery (a dark-humored "Oregon Trail" reference), I didn't care, because I'd be dead and no filthy authority figure could punish my corpse! :x



kitesandtrainsandcats
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09 Jun 2022, 4:21 am

Quote:
Often, this phenomenon occurs due to overstimulation.

"While it's regularly referred to as wandering or eloping, it really is bolting, they just run, they get overstimulated and they run from where they are


Referencing a couple experiences I had in younger years -- YES!


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blazingstar
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09 Jun 2022, 4:32 am

Agreed. I still remember looking into the woods as a child and trying to get the courage to just keep walking.


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Edna3362
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09 Jun 2022, 5:58 am

kitesandtrainsandcats wrote:
Quote:
Often, this phenomenon occurs due to overstimulation.

"While it's regularly referred to as wandering or eloping, it really is bolting, they just run, they get overstimulated and they run from where they are


Referencing a couple experiences I had in younger years -- YES!

Mine is more or less a mix of sensory seeking...
And having to stop people from worrying is mindnumbing boring and frustrating.

But would anyone let me go off and explore that learning opportunity in unfamiliarity and novelty? No. :roll:
They want me "safe".


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Aspie1
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09 Jun 2022, 7:26 am

Edna3362 wrote:
Mine is more or less a mix of sensory seeking...
And having to stop people from worrying is mindnumbing boring and frustrating.

But would anyone let me go off and explore that learning opportunity in unfamiliarity and novelty? No. :roll:
They want me "safe".

Yup, I felt the same way. I had runaway vagrant fantasies for most of my childhood. Even when walking around freely became age-appropriate, I ran into another problem: random people would shout insults at me from passing cars. (Some of them may have been people from my high school, though.) I used side streets and abandoned rail lines to bypass streets where it often happened. I also made my hand into a gun shape and put in my pocket; that helped somewhat too.

Interestingly, I found something that fulfilled those fantasies at age 29: cruising solo. 8O I could wander around my ship from bow to stern, and no one would bat an eye. In ports of call, at least the safe ones, I could roam around the streets, visit local businesses, and if necessary, ask the local police for directions; then return to the "safety" of my ship.

Sadly, today, such things are no longer possible, thanks to The Election Infection. Many ports no longer allow people to wander around freely; they require them to stay with their excursion groups, and allow movement only to the tourist destination, then back to the ship. And cruise lines strongly discourage free movement around their ships as well.



Edna3362
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09 Jun 2022, 7:44 am

Aspie1 wrote:
Edna3362 wrote:
Mine is more or less a mix of sensory seeking...
And having to stop people from worrying is mindnumbing boring and frustrating.

But would anyone let me go off and explore that learning opportunity in unfamiliarity and novelty? No. :roll:
They want me "safe".

Yup, I felt the same way. I had runaway vagrant fantasies until well into my teens. Even when walking around freely became age-appropriate, I ran into another problem: random people would hurl insults at me from passing cars. (Some of them may have been people from my high school, though.) I used side streets and abandoned rail lines to avoid streets where it often happened. I also made my hand into a gun shape and put in my pocket; that helped somewhat.

Interestingly, I found something that fulfilled those fantasies at age 29: cruising solo. 8O I could wander around my ship from bow to stern, and no one would bat an eye. In ports of call, at least the safe ones, I could roam around the streets, visit local businesses, and if necessary, ask the local police for directions; then return to the "safety" of my ship.

Sadly, today, such things are no longer possible, thanks to The Election Infection. Many ports no longer allow people to wander around freely; they require them to stay with their excursion groups, and allow movement only to the tourist destination, then back to the ship. And cruise lines strongly discourage free movement around their ships as well.

Basically the reason why I cannot enjoy much of tours, outings and RnRs.
Even the whole idea of going out with any company who doesn't want me 'missing' outside for groceries just weighs on my head.


All I get is basically roaming around the city alone on foot every now and then for years... I had, since high school.

And then this overnight retreat alone with a bunch of people with disabilities once -- no one's "worried" about me.
That I enjoyed it so much, to a point I burned myself out sick and out of whack for a week in overstimulation.
I would've done that again given an opportunity, consequences be damned.


But I want something new.
Something that's not so limited to time and speed, limiting the distance I can afford to go about without having to mind people back at the house.

It's either that, or wait for half a decade to re-explore that part of the town just to see something new.


Anyways, I have the same fantasies myself.
I was 7. The urge was strong at 10. It remained that way throughout my teenage years. It's like this weird call in my head.

I'm not sure if it's plausible in my culture to travel alone.
If I declared such intent, there would be networks of panic and offers to keep me safe. :| Seems an understatement for some scenarios where it is objectively unsafe to go alone, but come on...


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Dillogic
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09 Jun 2022, 8:08 am

I don't know if related, but I have an intense desire to explore like others have mentioned, especially during times of heightened stress. Whether deep into the wilderness or even just long walks along roads, night or day. If I lived in a city or the suburbs, I'm sure I'd just wander the roads and look for things where I could explore there. My own time. My own volition. Alone. I've no doubt mentioned doing this many times over the past several months.

I always love, need my home to come back to, the familiarity and routine, but I still go out looking for...something. Lots of things that something can be. Maybe it's just distraction in the end.

My father was the same and he has Asperger's (could be had, I dunno).



FleaOfTheChill
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09 Jun 2022, 8:39 am

I had that pull to run off as a kid. As a teen, I did run off, several times. One time I made it halfway across the country. I still feel the urge to just run away..the only reasons I have not are my grandson and my lack of faith in my own survival skills. My solution these days is to vanish into the woods now and then when the weather allows. I live in Michigan and we have a few national forests here. The dog and I go, just the two of us, set up camp, walk for miles, go back to camp, eat and nap out under the trees, wake up and walk some more... we do that for days at a time...until we nearly run out of food, then we go home...and plan the next trip. I'm planning on taking off next week. It recharges my metaphorical batteries in ways I cannot explain. If I didn't think I'd die out there, I'd stay out longer at a shot and go more remote. I really do need to work on survival skills...I like the idea of hitting the upper peninsula and going to the McCormick Wilderness. I'm just not there yet. Maybe in a few years.



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09 Jun 2022, 10:26 am

^ Flea, you can do it and it is really worth it. I do long wilderness canoe trips. The longest I have been in out real wilderness, is a month. I wish it could be longer. There's a big transition around the 12th day and you come into a totally new state of consciousness. It's one that I never really want to leave. I get horribly depressed when I have to come out again.

I'm leaving tomorrow for a short trip, one week. Then this summer, three weeks in Canadian wilderness. Due to covid, I've been unable to do a major trip for two years and I am really ready to get back out there.

(Yes, I also did run away, now that you mention it. Twice. Finally got rid of the demon who delighted in torturing me.)


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Pteranomom
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09 Jun 2022, 3:00 pm

Oh god, my kid used to be a runner. When he was about 3 or 4 years old, he thought it was just the funniest thing to bolt out of the house--buck naked!--while I was using the toilet. I'd usually catch up with him about a block away. Heaven knows what the neighbors thought. (He said he was trying to go to the toy store.)

(We installed new locks.)

After that he started trying to "infiltrate" other families and go home with them. He said he wanted to know what toys they had.

He also climbed into the back of a UPS truck once while I was getting a drink from a garden hose.

And ran away from hos grandma at the park because he was scared of a dog... *sigh*



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09 Jun 2022, 4:34 pm

Pteranomom wrote:
Oh god, my kid used to be a runner. When he was about 3 or 4 years old, he thought it was just the funniest thing to bolt out of the house--buck naked!--while I was using the toilet. I'd usually catch up with him about a block away. Heaven knows what the neighbors thought. (He said he was trying to go to the toy store.)

After that he started trying to "infiltrate" other families and go home with them. He said he wanted to know what toys they had.

I was a runner too, although only in my mind. I was too afraid to pull it off. I knew that if I were found and brought home, my punishment would so strong, I'd wish I died instead.

I also fantasized about moving out of my parents' home and moving in with another willing family, even at that age. Other than constantly asking for a pet, hating oatmeal and most soups, and waking up at 6:00 AM on weekends, I was every parents' (other than mine, that is) dream kid. So I knew I'd fit in with any family that had a pet and could live with the other two things. But I also knew it wasn't that easy: if I had approached another family with THAT request, they'd call the police; then I'd be brought home and punished very hard once I got there.

That's why I couldn't enjoy movies like "Stand By Me" or "The Goonies". Seeing a group of like-minded kids wandering around parent-free and doing whatever they want was a HUGE trigger for me, because I knew such a thing would never come true in my life. So if I were to actually run away, I could never return home, because punishment; my only choice then would be to jump from into a shallow, rocky river than ran through my childhood city. I had the locations of all the bridges memorized.