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When your special needs child is prone to wandering

The journal Pediatrics recently published a study which indicates that approximately half of all children diagnosed with autism are prone to wandering. A number of children with other special needs are inclined to do the same. This behavioral inclination may profoundly affect your child’s education if it is not addressed directly by you, your child’s educators and your attorney whenever necessary.

Special needs children are given various legal protections with regards to how they should be educated. One of these protections helps to assure that children are educated in the least restrictive environment possible. This means that unless their conditions prohibit them from effectively learning in an integrated classroom, they will be placed with their peers whenever possible. However, if your child is prone to wandering and certain precautions are not taken, the situation may affect his or her ability to be schooled in a less-restrictive environment and may affect his or her safety.

If your child wanders, it is important to bring this fact to the attention of your child’s educators. This behavior is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, it simply is what it is. Keeping this fact quiet is a poor choice from a safety-related standpoint. Speaking about it openly will better ensure that your child remains safe while at school.

If you are worried that discussing your child’s wandering will lead to discrimination, undesired changes or other negative consequences, please consult an education attorney experienced in special needs education. Your advocate can help you to understand your options and put your mind at ease whenever possible.

Source: New York Times, “The Day My Son Went Missing,” Lori McIlwain, Nov. 12, 2013

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