The ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee is considering a proposal that would create a medical diagnostic code for wandering. There is a petition available to sign and show support. Here are just a few reasons why a medical diagnostic code will help protect at-risk individuals with a history of wandering:
- Physicians are largely unaware of this issue; therefore, cannot provide prevention materials or advice. A diagnostic code will increase awareness, advice and prevention-material distribution.
– A diagnostic code will allow for data collection on the incidence of wandering, thereby increasing opportunities for prevention, education for doctors, caregivers, school administrators and staff, first responders/search personnel.
- Many nonverbal ASD individuals are unable to respond to their name when called. We feel a diagnosis code will lead to increased awareness and the development of emergency search-and-rescue response protocols.
- We believe a medical code will enhance schools’ understanding of wandering so that children with a history of wandering will be better protected. Currently, wandering is not looked at as a medical condition, but one of choice or bad behavior. This has lead to a lack of school training, prevention and emergency response. In January alone, two children with autism went missing from their schools.
- Children and adults with ASD who suddenly flee, bolt or run because of a trigger are at greater risk of restraint or seclusion. We believe a medical code will help establish safe protocols that work to eliminate triggers, thereby eliminating the need for restraint.
- We’ve seen reports of parents locking/secluding children in their rooms to keep them from wandering outside. While this is anecdotal information, we believe parents, schools and other care providers need better solutions. A medical code has enormous potential to help provide safe alternatives.
- We believe every disabled individual with a history of wandering — who is at serious risk of injury, trauma or death — should have access to safety devices and prevention materials regardless of the caregiver’s income. A medical code for wandering could potentially provide insurance coverage for those unable to afford critical protections for their children/adults.
You can visit change.org to sign the petition or to submit a personal or organizational letter.