Last night I lit a candle* to remind myself and others that "children with ASD are eight times more likely to elope** between the age of 7 and 10 than their typically-developing siblings. 48% of children with ASD attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings.***" Last night I lit a candle to remember those individuals who lost their lives in 2015 due to autism related elopement and the devastated families they left behind.
Tonight I will light a candle to remind myself and others that one 2015 study found that "autistic adults with a learning disability are 40 times more likely to die prematurely from a neurological condition such as epilepsy." I will light a candle to constantly remind myself and others that the same 2015 study articulated that suicide is now the leading cause of early adults in autism who do not have a learning disability."
Tomorrow I will light a candle to remind myself and others that individuals with autism die every year as a result of malpractice or outright murder. The news stories often forget to focus on the autistic individual who has lost their life.
Light a candle or chose a color to shine but at the end of the day make sure you have taken the time to start a conversation about autism. I promise you that someone somewhere--maybe a teen struggling to be themselves, maybe a parent trying to do the best that they can, or maybe a teacher desperate to reach a student that they have been told doesn't have a future--needs to hear your story about yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
*Learn more about Jill Smo's candlight vigil event on Facebook
IAN research on Wandering and Autism