Damion Alexander Davidson, an eight-year-old with autism, wandered from his home in Duncan, Oklahoma. His parents think he left in the middle of the night. On 25 June, after a 14-day search, police found his body.
“After 14 days, police say they found who’s believed to be Damion Davidson behind these trees in Claridy Creek, just about half a mile north of where the pyjama pants were found. They weren’t able to get to this area until now because of the amount of flooding and debris that was here,” said Sheriff Wayne McKinney. According to a local news report, “Damion had a love of storms and was fascinated by water. The morning he disappeared, the city of Duncan was hit with over 8 inches of rain.”
Wandering is not a rare occurrence among children with autism. Nearly half of all children with autism will wander at least once, according to a recent study. Children with other developmental and /or intellectual disabilities also wander, report researchers from Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.
Their study, published in PLOS One, examined wandering among children with autism, other developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities. The research, done by Dr Andrew Adesman and his colleagues, shows 26 percent of the children in this group “wandered away from a safe environment within the past 12 months.”
“Wandering has become a greater concern; said Adesman, “Not only does it pose a significant risk to the safety and well-being of children with developmental disabilities, but fear of wandering can be a daily source of stress and anxiety for parents of affected children.”
There are concrete steps parents can take to reduce the risk of wandering, but many parents are unaware of this potentially deadly risk. For more information about wandering and steps parents can take to reduce the risk of wandering see:
AWAARE by the National Autism Association
Preventing Wandering: Resources for Parents and First Responders by Autism Speaks
Missing Children with Special Needs by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
A version of this article was published on Examiner.com