A Candle for Every Autistic Child Lost to Wandering

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I have asked this question before and I will ask it again: How many more must die? Wandering is a real issue in the autism community. It affects all of us. Whenever a child with autism goes missing, we mobilize into action like never before. We know the risks. We know what could happen. We know what happens too often. Wandering can lead to death. Plain and simple. There is no other way to put it.

Today is the Candlelight Vigil for Autistic Children Who Lost Their Lives After Wandering. How many children you wonder? Too many! I worry about Angel constantly when we are out. All it takes is a second. The GPS he wears gives us a sense of security but even with that, we can never let our guards down. We still have to remain vigilant. All it takes is a second. Angel has no awareness of safety. He will bolt into traffic if given the chance. This scares me. Too many of our children are dying.

When I got the list of children who have died as a result of wandering from Wendy Fournier of the National Autism Association, tears streamed down my face. Take a look at it below. Every life that was lost left thousands of hearts broken.

Today we light a candle for every child listed below. We light a candle for those who were not listed. We light a candle for all the families with broken hearts.

Alyvia Navarro, (age 3)

Mikaela Lynch, (age 9)

Owen Black, (age 7)

Drew Howell, (age 2)

Freddie Williams, (age 13)

Christopher Morrison, (age 5)

Donivan Martin, (age 16)

Daven Williams, (age 15)

Michael Kingsbury, (age 7)

Dena Burns, (age 6)

Liam Hamilton, (age 7)

Nicholas Shaffer, (age 12)

Anthony Damek Guerra, (age 9)

Anthony Kuznia, (age 11)

Marquail Johnson (age 8)

Devonte Dye (age 5)

Elizabeth Hathaway (age 10)

Kaymania Serenity Catt (age 5)

Amarie Walker (age 4)

John Burton, Jr. (age 7)

Kristina Vlassenko (age 10)

Blake Murrell (age 4)

Aiden Lawson (age 3)

Jackson Kastner (4)

Savannah Martin (age 7)

Kaleb Shavers (age 6)

Kadeem Jesse Shillingford (age 15)

Alexie Leoper (age 4)

Christian Baucom (age 6)

Au-Juna Banks-Taylor (age 9)

Taariq Cross (age 7)

Tatiana Eiland-Clinton (age 3)

NNR (age 5) Bradenton, FL

Aiden Bower (age 4)

Jeremiah Conn (age 6)

David DeSantiago (age 11)

Sean Taglione (age 12)

Charlie Manley (age 16)

Hannah Ross (age 7)

NNR (age 11) Stafford, VA

Ariana Pivacheck (age 9)

Avonte Oquendo (age 14)

Travis Stratton (age 4)

Christina Sankey (age 29)

NNR (age 12) Houston

(*Courtesy National Autism Association- These are cases in the U.S. from 2011 to now based on media reporting. The ones listed as NNR means their names were not released to the media.)

May all these children rest in peace. May the ones not listed rest in peace. Lord keep all our babies safe. For more information on wandering, please visit the Autism Wandering and Elopement Initiative Web site: AWAARE DOT ORG.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.