As Another Autistic Child Drowns, Parents Demand: ‘Stop Saying Autism Isn’t Deadly’

Police in Parker County called off the search for James Charles “Jimmy” Eader, 15, because he was found deceased… reportedly another victim of the deadly wandering trait of autism. Jimmy is said to be the sixth victim of an autism-related wandering death in just a week, and parents within the autism community are demanding that the medical community cease referring to autism spectrum disorder as “non-deadly.”

Jimmy Eader had been last seen at 2:00 in the afternoon on the 100 block of Bluff Heights Drive in Weatherford, according to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office. The teen, like thousands of children with severe autism, was non-verbal. Jimmy, like thousands of other children on the autism spectrum, suffered from seizures. Jimmy’s body, like the bodies of hundreds of autistic children before him, was found in water and was declared a drowning. Jimmy was found on his property in a swimming pool.

The Parker County Sheriff’s Office said there is no indication of foul play. Jimmy, like so many other children with autism, was drawn to water and drowned. He had missed two doses of his medication by Thursday night after he had wandered away, according to the Dallas Morning News. The Sheriff says that the autistic teen’s family is, as we would expect, completely devastated.

Savannah Martin was 2-years-old when she was diagnosed with severe autism. Beth Dilg, Savannah’s mother, constantly watched her daughter.

“I did everything I could for her. I thought she was safe,” Dilg reportedly told America Tonight, after her daughter’s autism also turned deadly. “I was always with her.”

It only takes a second, parents learn, for a child with autism to bolt or wander off. In 2011, 7-year-old Savannah had returned home from church. During the four minutes it took Dilg to heat a bowl of noodles in the microwave, Savannah’s mother used the bathroom. When the toilet flushed, she heard the front door close.

“Panic hit right then, and so I ran downstairs. She wasn’t by the microwave. I ran out the front door … I was screaming her name and screaming her name, and couldn’t find her anywhere.”

Savannah immediately headed to a pond less than 50 yards from her house, past a barbed wire fence. After Savannah drowned, Child Protective Services found Dilg guilty of neglect leading to her daughter’s death. CPS claimed that the child should have been brought to the bathroom with her. Eventually, Dilg was cleared of neglect, but the charge demonstrates, according to autism experts, a lack of understanding of the deadly nature of autism-related bolting. Some parents are never even warned to expect wandering, nor told how fast it happens.

“They will wait for their chance to bolt away,” Lori McIlwain, co-founder of the National Autism Association, explained. “This is a fight-or-flight response. And the unpredictability of it is what makes it so very dangerous.” Lori’s own son, Connor, was seven-years-old when be bolted out of his school.

“Kids with autism, they are fascinated with certain topics, and for him, it was highway signs,” Lori explained. “So, he headed out on foot to the highway to find his favorite exit sign.”

Connor was thankfully rescued by a driver, but the event was so terrifying that McIlwain began tracking how common autism-related bolting, also termed “eloping” or “wandering,” actually is. 35 percent of parents surveyed say their autistic children attempt to wander at least once every week, according to researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Interactive Autism Network. Nearly a third of children with autism try to wander multiple times every day. Parents report that their children’s goal destinations are almost always either roads or water.

“Children and adults who cannot speak, recognize danger, or understand ways to keep themselves safe are the most vulnerable people living in the country today,” McIlwain declared at a Capitol Hill briefing autism-related wandering and bolting.

One mother of an autistic child explains how erroneous she feels it is when the medical profession claims that autism is not deadly.

“Our kids have no sense of danger –not in a helpful way. (I have mentioned before that my son’s fear of bees and other flying insects is more likely to kill him as he tries to get away from them). They are wanderers –for whatever reason, they love to go off on adventures…. the problem with these adventures is that they get lost, or they take them when it’s freezing outside and they are under dressed, they find water –they always find water –I’m convinced that the leading cause of death for autistic kids is drowning.”

On Facebook, the same mother was even more candid about the deadly nature of autism, after reading the most recent reports of the 15-year-old Parker County boy found in his family’s swimming pool.

“4 ‪#‎Autism‬ ‪#‎Wandering‬ ‪#‎Deaths‬ This week. Four.
But hey, at least they never got ‪#‎Measles‬
‪#‎FUA‬ ‪#‎REALAutismAwareness‬ Autism IS Deadly.
I’m learning to hate summer… we lose 20 or more each year. But there is no epidemic. There is nothing to see here… go get your flu shot.”

Unsurprisingly, drowning actually is the leading cause of death for children with autism, Science Daily reported. The National Autism Association says that “drowning accounted for approximately 90 percent of total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement…”

The Inquisitr wants your input and stories to see if awareness campaigns are working to warn people of the deadly nature of this autism trait. Please comment below. If you have a child with autism, were you warned of the deadly risks from autism-related wandering or bolting?

[Photo via Pixabay]