Mute Autistic Boy's Disappearance Reminds Us of Dangers for Disabled Kids

avonte oquendoI can't even imagine how frantic 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo's mother must be feeling right now: The "severely autistic" NYC boy, who is unable to communicate verbally, has been missing since Friday. He was last seen leaving Center Boulevard School in Long Island City where, disturbingly, he is supposed to be under constant one-on-one supervision. Because Oquendo is known for his love of trains, the NYPD have been searching subway tunnels in the hopes of finding him -- he's run away three times before and was discovered on the tracks each time. 

Oquendo's tendency to wander isn't unique to him, unfortunately: According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost half of all children with autism will run away at least once before their 17th birthday; of those who run away, tragically, many will be found dead. Most of those deaths -- a staggering 91 percent -- are from drowning.

What does this mean? Basically, it means we all have to do our part to keep special needs kids safe. Law enforcement officials can't do it alone, particularly because of the many factors that make autistic children so difficult to find: They tend to run from loud noises like police sirens and barking dogs and are excellent at hiding/burrowing (a comforting behavior that helps them to feel safe). They also tend to disappear without warning, unlike other kids who might drop hints or leave home after an argument with parents, etc. So it's really up to communities at large to firstly be aware of special needs kids and, secondly, always keep our eyes and ears open for signs that these children (any children, of course) might be in danger.

Now, in the case of Oquendo, it certainly seems like someone dropped the ball -- where was the security guard? Where was the person responsible for keeping a close eye on Oquendo at all times? At this point, though, all that really matters is finding him before it's too late

Avonte Oquendo, who is said to be 5'3", was wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans, and black sneakers at the time of his disappearance. Please call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS if you have any information about the boy.

Have you known any autistic children who ran away?


news, safety, autism


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Movie... Moviebuff

It's the parents and school responsibility not mine watch your "special" kids and don't pass the blame.

nonmember avatar nerbymomma

are you freakin kidding me moviebuff? it is their responsibility but can you be any colder or uncaring at all? what a load. people like you are causing the revelation....

Movie... Moviebuff

You don't have to like what I have to say but a lot if people with autistic kids what everybody to help them. I have the right to say what I feel.

Ember... Emberbaby

How is it that people lose their humanity? Very disheartening. I hope this boy is found safe ASAP .

Chana... Chanandler.Bong

If I see your child running away, or if there is an amber alert on your child and I see that child, I would do everything in my power to help him or her. It's not even a special needs thing (although knowing the special need can help you determine where to start); it's about being a decent human being. And I would even help the children whose parents who are unwilling to help others, because its the right thing to do. I just pray that if I am ever in a situation where I need help, I am surrounded by compassionate, decent people who will help.

nonmember avatar Normalkidmom

really how hard is it to watch your kid hmm maybe it's god way of cleaning house more room for normal kids.

nonmember avatar Katie

This is the reason why these kind of kids should not be allowed out in the public.

adopt... adoption2013

Moviebuff you are a moron.  This child wandered away from a school where he was to have an educational assistant with constant supervision.  The parents haven't done anything wrong.  Btw the safety and welfare of all children is everyone's responsibility.  If your child were in danger do you not think that I would help?  I suggest that you get a psychological assessment.

Jason Vuelta

wow Moviebuff i have to say in all of my 40 years of life you are the most pompous jackass i have ever encountered. i pray you never have a missing child because i would hate to see how you ended up feeling and yes you have hit a sore spot with me i am a proud father of an Autistic child and it's people like you that are what is making this country go to shit...

nekoy... nekoyukidoll

hope they find the guy, any child missing is terriable handicap or not.

and moviebuff, i have no words but remember: karmas as mean as you are.

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