National Autism Association Announces American Legion Child Welfare Foundation Autism Safety Toolkit Grant

Mar 01, 2011, 09:55 ET from National Autism Association

NIXA, Mo., March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Autism Association (NAA) today announced its receipt of a $50,000 grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) to disseminate the "Big Red Safety Box" to autism families nationwide.  The effort was created to combat the rise in wandering-related injuries and deaths in the autism community.  


"We are very happy to make these tools and resources available to those caring for individuals at risk of wandering away from safe environments," said NAA board chair and parent Lori McIlwain.  "The generosity of the Child Welfare Foundation will help prevent the horrific outcomes that have devastated so many families of children who have a tendency to wander."

While there has been no official tracking of wandering-related incidents involving individuals diagnosed with autism, in an online poll conducted by NAA in 2007, 92% of parent respondents said their children with autism have a tendency to wander.  A 2008 study from Denmark found that the mortality rate within the autism population is twice as high as in the general population. In 2001, a California research team attributed elevated death rates among people with autism in large part to drowning. Drowning, prolonged exposure, and other wandering-related factors remain among the top causes of death within the autism population. "People with wandering tendencies can be gone in the blink of an eye despite even the most diligent supervision," said Ms. McIlwain.  "It is our hope that these safety tools and resources will better prepare caregivers to ensure that they do not experience the devastation that can result from wandering-related incidents."

The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation was founded in 1954 to provide other nonprofit organizations with a means to educate the public about the needs of children across the nation.  To date, they have provided over $11 million to help children in need in this country.  According to CWF Executive Secretary Robert Caudell, "The National Autism Association safety tool boxes will provide invaluable resources to families for keeping their loved ones safe.  We are excited about the opportunity of sharing these lifesaving tools with families affected by autism."

The opening of the application period will be announced by the organization in the coming months. In the meantime parents are encouraged to join NAA's wandering prevention group on Facebook Information on wandering prevention can be found at

For more information about autism, visit

For more information about CWF, visit    


Rita Shreffler, NAA (Nixa, MO) 417-818-9030

Lori McIlwain, NAA (Cary, NC) 919-741-1646

SOURCE National Autism Association