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Months After Wandering From School, Teen’s Remains Found

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In a case that drew national attention, the remains of a teen with autism have been found more than three months after he disappeared from his New York City school prompting a massive search.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, who had autism and was nonverbal, left his school Oct. 4 and had not been seen since.

Now, a DNA test has confirmed that remains discovered late last week along the East River are those of Oquendo, according to Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office.

Officials have yet to determine a cause of death and it remains unclear how Oquendo’s body arrived at the shoreline several miles from the school where he was last seen.

The case drew alarm from many parents of children with autism who wondered how an individual with the developmental disorder could leave school unnoticed.

Wandering is a significant issue for many on the spectrum, with a survey conducted by the Interactive Autism Network finding that about half of kids with autism have a tendency to bolt.

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Comments (5 Responses)

  1. Jose says:

    all parents with a special needs child must require a one on one aided and put it in the I E P, there is no price for the live of an innocent person . god bless his parents

  2. vmgillen says:

    My heart goes out to the family… I too have a child with what I call “we ain’t kidding” autism (to differentiate it from what used to be called Asbergers). He’s been pulled out of the Buttermilk Channel, and was in the habit of taking off his clothes and eloping from home at every opportunity. What, oh what, can we do? One mother’s day I found a young man in my backyard – found him, knew he was autistic, and kept him until we tracked down his family. Wouldn’t most people be afraid to do that? And might some people do harm to the child? And how do we walk the fine line between keeping our loved ones safe and charges of “imprisonment” by self-identified people with autism? What, oh what, can we do?

  3. ann dorian masotti says:

    It is time for educators, at every school level, to be held accountable for incidences such as this one. There is an underlying carelessness pervasive within the public school system, beginning with the bus drivers. It is not uncommon for young children to be left behind…there are far too many incidences.

    Condolences to this poor boy’s family.

  4. Teresa says:

    Don’t we have the technology to provide via ankle bracelet a GPS that will give location of a wanderer? We can microchip pets, use a positioning system to locate a restaurant but we can’t find a young autistic that wandered away from school. Tragic.

  5. dlmgrham says:

    I am appalled and frightened by this story. Luckily our little “Jackpot” isn’t a wanderer, but I have insisted he never be allowed out of his classroom without an aide or teacher with him. I had it written into his IEP. He would not know what was happening if another person came up to him, lead him somewhere, or did something to him. He wouldn’t be able to coherently report who it was or what happened. I agree that schools need to take more responsibility in these matters. Teachers should be aware every time their classroom door opens. For safety reasons they should know who is coming in and who is coming out.

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