In 2012, researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, along with the Interactive Autism Network, helped spearhead the nation’s largest online autism research initiative.
Their findings were staggering: 35 percent of respondents said their autistic children attempted to wander at least once a week. Another 29 percent said their children attempted to wander multiple times a day. Overall, half of all children on the autistic spectrum “bolt” around age 4 – up to eight times as often as their unaffected siblings – and they’re most often drawn to roadways or water.
A 2008 study by Danish researchers found that the mortality rate among people on the autism spectrum was about twice that of the general population.
In one of the most famous cases of bolting, 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo left school in Queens, New York, and was captured on security cameras. But searchers failed to track his path to the East River, where his body was found three months later. It was devastating news for his stepbrother, Daniel, who searched alongside hundreds of volunteers.