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Losing a child with Autism doubly frightening

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tangle_eye/morguefile.com

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT/TNS)  -- Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. The thought of losing a child with Autism is even more frightening.

April is National Autism Month and this year disability advocates are emphasizing the tendency of children with Autism to wander away. Wendy Fournier with the National Autism Association says those with autism typically flee an overwhelming environment, or wander to something of interest.

"About 90 percent of the kids who die following a wandering incident die from drowning. Our kids are very, very attracted to water. So we recommend that everybody teach their child, make sure they know how to swim."

Fournier says it’s also important for law enforcement officers get training in how to handle people with Autism. He says due to challenges with communication children or adults with autism can end up in big trouble when they wander.

"It’s really easy for a person with a communication disorder to come across as being uncooperative to the police so the police really need some training to start recognizing autism and other cognitive disorders."

Fournier says parents are encouraged to implement measures that can prevent wandering, including security alerts on doors and I-D bracelets or tracking devices for their child. She says swimming lessons are also crucial.