Autism, Elopement, and Water Safety Survey Results

Autism Society of Indiana conducted an online survey in 2017 on this issue. The survey link was posted on several Facebook sites, was shared multiple times to other sites, and appeared in our newsletter.

58 Respondents


63% feel their child is more attracted to water than other children because of autism

11% feel their child understands the danger of water swimming alone

28% feel their child understands death

9% understand and obey stop signs; 61% understand but do not consistently obey them

22% are willing to share their child’s elopement story publicly; 33% are willing to share their story anonymously (for example, we could read each other’s stories when testifying at a legislative session)

67% were not aware that the waiver can pay for adaptive swimming with a Recreational Therapist

65% were not aware that some insurance companies pay for swim therapy with a PT/OT with water safety education credentials

62% feel there is not enough media coverage of this situation


The most popular strategy parents identified, by a large margin, is “Teaching children to swim”. Getting tracking devices received somewhat less support as a strategy.


The two most popular items parents are willing to spend their own time on are “Educating First Responders” and “Educating Children about Water Safety”. The two least popular items are “Reporting the lack of Recreational Therapists to BQIS” and “Testifying at Legislative Hearings”.


The items that parents feel advocacy groups should be working on, in order, are:

  1. Educating community providers about the need for adaptive swim lessons
  2. Providing information to the general public about this issue
  3. Pushing for more Recreational Therapy options throughout the state
  4. Providing information to autism families about this issue
  5. Influencing the media stories regarding this issue
  6. Fighting for a legislative solution


The survey comments and the number of survey respondents do not suggest broad support for this issue in the autism community.


Two community meetings were offered to discuss these results and strategies. Parents and representatives from various advocacy groups attended. Participants held a brainstorming session to come up with strategies for this issue – see those strategies here.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email