Autism and Alzheimer’s Outreach

SUMMER IS HERE! Important Water Safety Information for People with Autism

Montgomery County Police want you to know that people with autism are often attracted to water sources such as swimming pools, ponds, and lakes, and may gravitate towards bodies of water when they wander.  Drowning is the number one cause of premature death for individuals with autism. When officers search for missing children with autism they will immediately search any nearby bodies of water.

A caregiver/parent can take steps to prevent wandering and can make preparations in case their loved one does wander:

  • Make every effort to make it difficult for your loved one to wander.  Install an alarm if possible.
  • Reach out to neighbors for support.  Examples of neighbor letters can be found below.
  • Create a 911 script (link below) – information that will be helpful to emergency responders should your child wander. Include a Google map of the area showing bodies of water. Do not hesitate to tell officers about the dangers of drowning.
  • Make sure the loved one has identification on them at all times.
  • Take a full-length photo and head-shot of your loved one.  Store the photos electronically so that if the person wanders, the photos can be sent to law enforcement quickly.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if your loved one has wandered so that police can respond.

Individuals with medical conditions like Alzheimer’s, Autism, and Down Syndrome have a propensity to wander.  As police officers, we are often called to a home or area to assist a caregiver with locating a person who has wandered.  On average, the Montgomery County Police Department investigates two missing (wandering) Autistic children cases per week.  The department recognizes that caregivers of loved ones with these disorders have a huge responsibility.

The Autism and Alzheimer’s Outreach Unit is committed to educating and bringing awareness of these medical conditions to the community and to officers, while also providing resources to loved ones of those with one of these conditions.


Quick Links:

Autism/Alzheimer’s Wandering Safety Tips

Project Lifesaver Intake Form

911 Script

Neighbor letter for autism in English

Neighbor Letter in Spanish

Neighbor letter for Alzheimer’s in English

Neighbor Letter for Alzheimer’s in Spanish

Project Lifesaver

For more information and/or assistance, please contact Officer Laurie Reyes at 301-840-2788 or via email.