Webinar presenters Leemie Kahng Sofer answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Wandering and Elopement of Children with Autism- NCMEC Resources. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: What are some of the dos and don’ts for search and rescue personnel who are searching for someone with ASD?
Leemie Kahng Sofer: I think it boils down to, there’s the questionnaire, addendum and also the checklist. I would say probably the biggest do is try to find out what their interests are and aversion and so that. If somebody is afraid of loud noises, that’s why the sensory-friendly events can also be very helpful. Expose them to flashing lights and sounds and capture the things. Be creative like they were in that particular instance. Find out what those child interests are, fascinations and aversions and avoid the aversions when you are searching for them.
Audience Question: What is the difference between wandering, elopement and running away? Are they technically different or are they legally different?
Leemie Kahng Sofer: I don’t know for any legal definitions but wandering or elopement is sort of all the similar terminology. They are kind of interchangeable. There’s wandering, elopement, bolting, fleeing, running, there is not necessarily a legal definition involved but just a terminology that can be used interchangeably.
Audience Question: In cases where someone with ASD has experienced where they are missing, are there sexual assault nurse examiners who are trained to work with adults and children with ASD? If so, is it hospital-specific or are there deployable same professionals similar to Team Adam?
Leemie Kahng Sofer: NCMEC does not have similar deployable experts. I don’t know in the context of individual hospitals, medical facilities whether there is anybody specifically trained. That is probably something that Michael Gomez might be able to answer better. If you want to email me and I can also try to get some information from him to better answer your question. I don’t know the answer to that but I at least know that we do not have similar deployable resources.
Audience Question: Are your Team Adam consultants deployed throughout the country? Do they live throughout the country or do they fly to the location?
Leemie Kahng Sofer: They are scattered around the country but they can also fly if needed. It really depends on where the location is. In the context of ASD, let’s say there is somebody nearby but the search and rescue expert a few states away, we will fly them. this is at no cost to any of the parties. That is something that we provide for free. Law enforcement we will send a search and rescue expert sometimes even two depending on the circumstances and they do have access to canines. There’s a number of different assets that we can help facilitate and provide. They are scattered throughout the country but they can fly also depending on the circumstances.
Audience Question: In situations like the child missing case in Hanover County, does NCMEC coordinate their volunteers and who manages the process to bring in divers and the search and rescue folks?
Leemie Kahng Sofer: That is law enforcement. We do not have any hand in terms of the management of volunteers. There might be a team Adam who is deployed on-site who may have some expertise and provide technical assistance but that is not anything. That is managed by that law enforcement agency or whoever they designate. In terms of getting those assets in terms of divers, air and that sort of thing that is that originating law enforcement agency in conjunction to what other agencies are assisting but there are certain things that we can help facilitate as well and that has to be with the permission of and coordination with that law enforcement agency who is responsible for handling that case.
Audience Question: You mentioned about legislation required door alarms. Is that nationally required or just in your New York state?
Leemie Kahng Sofer: My understanding is that Avonte’s law is New York state.
Audience Question: Do notifications that are posted to Nextdoor or Nixle need to be specially categorized to be automatically transmitted to NCMEC?
Leemie Kahng Sofer: The notification through Nixle is if a missing child, if it is somebody with ASD I would say specify that, they will send that over to us. With Nextdoor the notification is actually from us to Nextdoor for their dissemination so it is not the other way around.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Wandering and Elopement of Children with Autism- NCMEC Resources.