Missing Boy Brings Attention to Autism

By: Melissa Warren Email
By: Melissa Warren Email

"The thing is, this disability impacts communication and social interaction, and both of those are critical when we are looking at a rescue situation for them," said Boman.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky (WBKO) --The disappearance of of 14 year old boy from New York has brought attention to the needs of children with Autism.

22 years ago, it was one of Marty Boman's childrens' best friend's abduction in Minnesota that drew national attention.
Today, it's the disappearance of Avonte Oquendo in New York.

"This is a very difficult situation for the families, and when it hits home right with someone you know and love dearly, it's just unbelievable," said WKU Kelly Autism Program Director Marty Boman.

Avonte, a 14 year old with Autism ran away from his school earlier this month, and is unable to verbally communicate.

"The thing is, this disability impacts communication and social interaction, and both of those are critical when we are looking at a rescue situation for them," said Boman.

Boman says a child goes missing every 40 seconds in the U.S., and one in 88 children in the U.S. are have been diagnosed with Autism.

"It's very hard for some of them to to tell people that they're frightened. That's the emotional piece, and then we do have the sensory issues that come into play as well," said Boman.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says those with severe cases tend to be drawn to bodies of water for comfort, and 91 percent of deaths in children 14 and under with Autism are caused by drowning. The center advises parents to tell first responders of any unique tendencies like these, and Operation Golden Retrieval,used by Warren County Rescue, can make that process more efficient.

"This memory kit has information that we would have to gather, when we came, either us or law enforcement, to the scene, because we have to fill out quite a bit of information and that's valuable time for us to be looking for someone," said Warren County Rescue Public Information Officer Deborah Williams.

Operation Golden Retrieval and Project Lifesaver, which uses a bracelet with GPS tracking to locate children, are both offered by Warren County Rescue.

For more information on the projects, see the links below.


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