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Parents Arrested After Son With Autism Found Wandering


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Many children with autism are prone to wandering, but one Connecticut couple may pay a price after their 4-year-old with the developmental disorder was found roaming their neighborhood.

Curtis and Jennifer Youngdahl were arrested Tuesday on charges of risk of injury to a child.

The charges stem from a September incident in which the couple’s son was discovered by neighbors wandering without shoes near their Plainfield, Conn. residence. Police indicated that the boy left home without his parents noticing.

The couple turned themselves in Tuesday after learning of a warrant for their arrest, reports The (New London, Conn.) Day. To read more click here.

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Comments (5 Responses)

  1. SusanFordKeller says:

    Sadly, I would wager that this family is low income.

    Wealthy parents seems to skate on offenses like this and even more serious offenses. How many times have you heard of a parent who left their child in a hot car and the child died and the middle class/wealthy parent gets off? There is a mother whose toddler received scalding burns from the bathtub faucet. The child subsequently died in the hospital. The mother was never charged with any thing. In fact, she went on to write a book about it, claiming the hot water heater was defective and that the hospital did not take proper care of her child, leading to her death. Why wasn’t she charged for not properly supervising her child so the child didn’t get burned in the first place?

    For the family in this article, charging them with child neglect is just counterproductive. What they need is help to make sure this doesn’t happen again. How about someone putting in child proof locks on all the exterior doors? Or maybe donating an autism service dog that can keep the child from eloping? How about some type of GPS device that the child wears at all times?

  2. violetred says:

    I agree with SusanFordKeller. This article only gives half the story. Even the best parents can forget to lock a door once in awhile. I reserve judgement until I hear what the parents have to say.

  3. vmgillen says:

    Reading the article (without any other background material) I’d have to say that the Plainfield officials are woefully uneducated. I parent an eloper, who has incredible problem-solving skills and is now 6′ 300lbs…the first time he escaped – 3 years old – we asked for window bars (we lived on a military base) and were denied. It hit a point where I found the easiest way to track him was following the trail of giggling girls: he would invariably strip his clothes… on rotation we were again denied window guards, fence, double cylinder locks – by 5 years old he was taking off in the middle of the night and going 3 miles in 1/2 an hour (I believe he took the bus – stark naked?) by the time he was 14 he was able to slam the front door so hard he pulled the framing for the door out of the house itself, and bent the steel door. GPS devices are useless, child-proof locks are useless, alarms go off because he’s already left, not when he’s about to leave. The dog barks to alert for seizures, but otherwise is a co-conspirator. This is not a questions of enviro. control, it’s a clear-cut need for behaviour modification.

    Arresting the parents means the city/state will have to figure out what to do with the child while they’re “in the system.” If expereince here in NYC is any guide, they won’t be able to – Childrens Services has been known to return kids with ASD to known abusive environments due to lack of facilities. MAYBE the arrest was done to incentivize someone to provide services to this family, but I doubt it. Income, btw, has nothing to do with it. Ignorance is the key.

  4. Susanne says:

    #1. There are kids that just go. My son, who has autism AND was never a wanderer, was outside running up & down our front walk in the rain, in his underwear, on a chilly October day. I had no clue till my youngest son asked if he could do that too!!
    #2. The officials have to be ridiculously uneducated to living with autism. Perhaps some one should help the parents get an alarm for the doors leading outside, or help them by giving them a break on occasion.
    #3. I agree that parents wiht money can often get away with things that parents without cannot.

  5. annie says:

    To me jail time isn’t the best way to solve this issue… I had a neighbor with a young son who had severe autism, and I would occasionally see him roaming the neighborhood completely naked. My brother returned him to his house and his mom was so stressed out that she had not noticed he was missing in the first place. While clearly parents need to be supervising their kiddo, especially one with special needs that might compromise their awareness of danger, it’s often easier said than done. I think better support of parents would result in less incidents like this one. My son has a very involved developmental disability, it’s the equivalent of the most severe form of autism, adhd, and mild CP. If he were physically able to walk instead of scoot, I’m sure I would be chasing him down the street too, and that’s WITH constant line of sight supervision 24/7.

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