Be Prepared

February 23, 2012 Prism Newsletter
By Tonia Ferguson

I am sure everyone has heard the motto, “Be Prepared”. National disasters such as flood, fire, earthquakes, tornadoes and even windstorms affect thousands of people every year. In these instances, you must be able to be prepared beforehand so you can protect yourself, your family, and community. Another disaster that hits home in the disability community is that of wandering and elopement. With little public understanding about autism-related wandering, coupled with a lack of resources, autism elopement remains a leading cause of fatalities among children and adults on the autism spectrum.

It’s important as a family to familiarize yourself with the dangers of wandering and elopement and prepare for the unexpected by developing a family emergency plan. The emergency plan may be different and unique for each family. However, knowing the actions to take for each emergency will impact the specific decisions and preparations you make as a family. Your emergency plan may include a first responder alert form or a wandering plan as well as an Individual Education Program that may ensure your child’s safety outside of the home. No matter what you include in the family emergency plan, it is critical that you are preparing your family to react in an emergency.

Once you have established your family’s emergency plan, make sure your family and community members are trained and retrained in the possible emergencies they may encounter during wandering or an elopement, the emergency procedures they should follow, any first aid or rescue procedures, and the location of emergency response equipment. Emergencies in life cannot be eliminated, but if you have an emergency plan in place and have trained your family and community to respond quickly and appropriately you can optimize efficiency, relieve anxiety, and save lives.

Being prepared is just not for scouts, we owe it to our families and communities. Join us in saving lives and create your family emergency plan today. Visit for resources and information on emergency preparedness and remember: Be prepared!

Tonia Ferguson is the Director of the Autism NOW Center.

2 thoughts on “Be Prepared

  1. I attended a presentation by Scot tSchuelke September 17, 2013 at Mich. Assoc. of Animal Control Officers. I was very impressed with the presentation. I am also a School Board Member (for 41 years).

    Scott atated there was a plan to have an information sheet for persons with autism that could contain a photograph and also additional information as “runner, no verbal skills, parent or caregiver, address, phone numbers” and any information that could calm person, and put them at ease. I understood this information could be filed by Central Dispatch for the emergency responders. Could you e-mail a copy of this form and any other forms that would assist agencies in dealing with these persons?

    Please reply ASAP. I will be taking this information to 2 intermediate school districts.
    My e-mail address is [email protected]

    Thank you

    Alan Benson

  2. Hello Alan,

    We tried to contact you through email; however, the message bounced back. I believe you are referring to the information sheet that is used to assist first responders in effectively interacting with individuals with disabilities during emergency situations. There are many version of this form. I’ve included two examples below:

    I hope this is helpful.

    Phuong Nguyen, Autism NOW

Leave a Reply