Keep Our Loved Ones Safe From Wandering-Related Injuries and Death
  • Petitioned Donna Pickett

This petition was delivered to:

Co-Chair - ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee
Donna Pickett

Keep Our Loved Ones Safe From Wandering-Related Injuries and Death

    1. Petition by


The ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee is currently considering a proposal to create a medical diagnostic code for wandering. Please sign this petition to show your support of this effort.

The National Autism Association has brought this issue to the urgent attention of our federal health agencies.  We believe a diagnostic code for wandering will help protect at-risk individuals who have a documented history of wandering and will help to avert dangerous restraint and seclusion practices that are currently in use.  Here's why:

 - Physicians are largely unaware of this issue; therefore, cannot provide prevention materials or advice. A diagnostic code will increase awareness, advice and prevention-material distribution. 

 - A diagnostic code will allow for data collection on the incidence of wandering, thereby increasing opportunities for prevention, education for doctors, caregivers, school administrators and staff, first responders/search personnel.

- Many nonverbal ASD individuals are unable to respond to their name when called. We feel a diagnosis code will lead to increased awareness and the development of emergency search-and-rescue response protocols.

- We believe a medical code will enhance schools’ understanding of wandering so that children with a history of wandering will be better protected. Currently, wandering is not looked at as a medical condition, but one of choice or bad behavior. This has lead to a lack of school training, prevention and emergency response. In January alone, two children with autism went missing from their schools.

- Children and adults with ASD who suddenly flee, bolt or run because of a trigger are at greater risk of restraint or seclusion. We believe a medical code will help establish safe protocols that work to eliminate triggers, thereby eliminating the need for restraint. 

- We’ve seen reports of parents locking/secluding children in their rooms to keep them from wandering outside. While this is anecdotal information, we believe parents, schools and other care providers need better solutions. A medical code has enormous potential to help provide safe alternatives. 

- We believe every disabled individual with a history of wandering — who is at serious risk of injury, trauma or death — should have access to safety devices and prevention materials regardless of the caregiver's income. A medical code for wandering could potentially provide insurance coverage for those unable to afford critical protections for their children/adults.

If you would like to submit a personal or organizational letter to the ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee, please email Donna Pickett at  The deadline for submission of public comments is April 1, 2011.


Recent signatures


    1. Reached 5 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Brenda Hagen ORTING WA, WA
      • over 3 years ago

      This is soooo needed. My son has it listed in his IEP that he waunders but it's so not enough. Summer always has us on our toes!

    • Kevin Stewart LAWRENCE, KS
      • over 3 years ago

      My 8 year old son has wandered away from our home. We have door knob covers that work for now, but will have to install more security features soon. Many kids with Autism lack the "danger threshold" most neuro-typical (typically developing) children have. Autism related wandering is a world-wide chronic problem. I'm so glad through social networking, community, and national groups, we are afforded the opportunity to pray for some of the kids who have wandered away. More help is needed, so we can spread the word about wandering throughout neighborhood, educational, political, church and/or childcare groups,

    • Laura Lindelof BROCKTON, MA
      • over 3 years ago

      I got respite care from DMR and my son woke up at 4:30 am and my door bell rang at 5:30 am there was my son he was 2 towns away, he said he woke up and was board so he left and walked down the street and asked a stranger to give him a ride now I just thank god it was not a sex offender

    • Melissa Fitch SUSSEX, NJ
      • over 3 years ago

      My little boy is an escape artist with PDD. I'd feel much better knowing that people in my community were trained to deal with wandering, I'd also love affordable protections for him. It's not bad behavior; it's just Autism.

    • Martha Baker FARMINGTON, PA
      • over 3 years ago

      I have an autistic grandson who wanders off at every chance. He has twice been pulled from a body of water in Florida. He has been picked up wandering in the street more than once. He has no understanding of the dangers of traffic or strangers.


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