Posts Tagged ‘Mason Alert’

Wandering autism articles from 2011

January 11, 2012

2011 was another eventful year in autism news. Parents and advocates continued to raise awareness about wandering safety, a critical issue in the autism community.

Links to the articles as well as excerpts are below.

Preventing autism wandering deaths: Mason Alert, tracking, medical code proposed

Interview with advocate Sheila Medlam on her son Mason and autism wandering

New CDC medical code expected to help prevent autism wandering, raise awareness

To read the whole article on, click here.


Interview with autism advocate Sheila Medlam about son Mason and wandering

April 23, 2011

On July 27, 2010, 5-year old Mason Medlam, a non-verbal boy with autism, wandered from his home in Colwich, Kansas and drowned in a pond despite numerous safety precautions.  Click here to read an interview with Mason’s mother Sheila.

Mason was one of at least nine children with autism in the U.S. who died after wandering in 2010, all from drowning.  So far in 2011, three children with autism in the U.S. have drowned after wandering. On March 30, a child with autism in Victoria, Australia died after being struck by a train.  On April 3, a child with autism in Quebec, Canada went missing after wandering and has not been found.

In the eight months since her son Mason’s death, Sheila Medlam has been raising awareness of autism wandering.  She has established the Mason Allen Medlam Foundation for Autism Safety and collected more than 100,000 signatures to propose a “Mason Alert” program. The Mason Alert would consist of an alert that would be triggered when a child with autism goes missing, and a registry of children with autism and other disabilities at risk for wandering.

Please click here to read the interview with Sheila Medlam on

15 articles from 2010 every parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder should read

January 15, 2011

One of the major educational and therapeutic trends in autism in 2010 was an increase in meaningful, developmental autism therapies that incorporate social, emotional and cognitive skills to enhance traditional behavioral methods.

On the research front, scientists increasingly recognized and acknowledged that autism is largely environmental and not solely genetic.

And while devastating tragedies occurred, out of those heartbreaks came greater awareness and safety measures that will ultimately save the lives of vulnerable children.‘s Mike Frandsen takes a look back at some of the articles from 2010 that reflected critical issues in the world of autism.

Mason Alert would help prevent wandering, drowning deaths of kids with autism

Mason Alert to be combined with Take Me Home program to prevent autism wandering

Dr. Stanley Greenspan dies, founded Floortime and developmental approaches to autism therapy

Teaching, coaching sports, playing with children with autism: rewarding, but also a whole lot of fun

Play dates for kids with autism can enhance social skills, emotional awareness, and learning

Using humor, puppets in play therapy can enhance social, communication skills for kids with autism

Understanding and managing emotions are important life and social skills for children with autism

Sports and exercise for children with autism can improve social and cognitive skills

Top 10 mistakes, lessons learned from therapy programs for children with autism spectrum disorders

Landrigan calls for more research into pesticides, toxic chemicals, environmental causes of autism

Autism advocate Lyn Redwood discusses mercury vaccine controversy, chelation, treatment and recovery

Interview with Dan Olmsted, Mark Blaxill: ‘Age of Autism-Mercury, Medicine, and a Manmade Epidemic’

Congress: CDC misled public about Washington, D.C. lead in water crisis, lead was toxic for some

Facilitated Communication (FC) enables non-verbal people on autism spectrum to communicate by typing

HHS, NIH and other federal agencies should hire more employees with autism and other disabilities

For the rest of the article on, click here.

Mason Alert Take Me Home program will help prevent autism wandering, save lives

November 25, 2010

Mason Allen Medlam

Last July, 5-year old Mason Medlam drowned in a pond after wandering from his home.  He had autism.  Wandering and drowning are leading causes of death for children with autism, who are often unaware of danger, fascinated by water, and unable to communicate.

Mason’s family has proposed the Mason Alert, a national registry of people with autism and other disabilities that would help authorities find them if they go missing.

Plans are underway for the Mason Alert questions to be integrated with an existing police program for autism wandering safety, the Take Me Home program, which contains photos and contact information for approximately 500 children and adults with autism and other disabilities in Pensacola, Florida.  Approximately 250 police departments across the U.S., Canada, and England are using the Take Me Home program, which is free to any police departments that want to use it.

The information in the Mason Alert includes not only photos of children and adults with autism along with contact information, but it also lists their fascinations and interests, whether they are verbal or nonverbal, if they have any serious health concerns such as seizures, how they react under stress, how to approach them, and other information specific to the person.

The Medlam family has been raising awareness of autism wandering in the months since Mason’s death.

“Losing Mason was like losing the other half of my soul,” said Sheila Medlam, the mother of Mason.  “From the very beginning we shared his story with everybody because we didn’t ever want it to happen to anybody else and we wanted to give some meaning to something so horrible.”

The Mason family also hopes to establish an alert similar to the national AMBER Alert system for missing children, or to include criteria for autism wandering into the AMBER Alert, which currently only covers abducted children.

But for now, Medlam hopes that lives will be saved because of the story of her son, the awareness that has been raised about autism wandering, and the expansion of the Take Me Home program to include the questions in the Mason Alert.

“I think every child that is saved because this is in place is a piece of my son alive,” Medlam said.  “When I look in their eyes I see the same thing I saw in my son’s eyes.  The same inner sense of beauty and joy and mischief, I see it in their eyes and they’re very, very, very special children and they should be protected by everybody, and with everything we have to protect them.”

For the complete article on, please click here.

Mason Alert would help prevent wandering, drowning deaths of children, adults with autism

October 28, 2010

Mason Medlam, 5, drowned July 27 in a pond after wandering from his home near Colwich, Kansas. Mason was non-verbal and had autism.

Wandering and drowning are leading causes of death for children with autism, who often have limited communication abilities, impulsive behaviors, and a lack of a sense of danger. On July 27, 2010, Mason Allen Medlam, a 5-year old non-verbal boy with autism, wandered away from his home near Colwich, Kansas and drowned in a pond. His family has set up the Mason Allen Medlam Foundation for Autism Safety to prevent future deaths due to wandering, which is a major problem among children with autism.  The family is advocating for a “Mason Alert” that would provide authorities with a registry about children who are at risk for wandering so they can be found more easily.  You can sign their petition here.

The federal AMBER Alert is only for children who have been abducted, but the Mason Alert would cover children and adults with autism and other disabilities who are at risk for wandering.  The Silver Alert is primarily designed for Alzheimer’s patients.

Mason’s mother, Sheila Medlam, spoke in front of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Friday at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and told the group, “You have to do something now.  Politics shouldn’t be involved.  These children, they are gone forever.  You don’t have time to wait.  You need to do something now.”  Members of the National Autism Association also spoke about the problem of wandering and safety.

Medlam described to the group how her son, who was fascinated by water, wandered from the house one day through a window. The Medlams were vigilant about safety.  Sheila Medlam said she never slept more than a foot from Mason.  The family had multiple locks on every door because they knew Mason was skilled at opening

Mason Medlam

locks.  But on this day the temperature was 105 degrees and the air conditioner was broken. Mason got out through a window. A frantic search was unsuccessful and Medlam found Mason drowned in a pond.

Medlam said a registry would have saved Mason’s life by identifying his attraction to water.  Authorities would have likely searched around the nearby pond.  Instead, Medlam says, they didn’t take her request seriously.

“By the time I pulled him out of the pond, he had only been gone for a few minutes.  The police had actually been there for about 15.  At any point if they had gone to the pond they could have saved Mason,” Medlam said.

After flying in from halfway across the country, Medlam had her presentation cut short, a bit rudely (although surely no disrespect was intended), by the chairman of the committee because of time constraints. She wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  Welcome to Washington. But her speech was extraordinary and compelling, and by the end of the meeting the IACC had voted to establish a subcommittee devoted to safety issues.

Medlam left the room for a while, and I later caught up with her and interviewed her for  She described what a sheer joy her son was, and talked about her favorite memories of Mason.  She told of how he looked at the world as a beautiful place, and how he had no fear of danger.

She said when she first got the news that Mason had autism, she was scared.

“I thought it was the worst news in the world,” she said.

Mason Medlam

“And then I got to know Mason and there was never one second where I would have traded him for a different child without autism, never one second.  Everything he lacked he made up for in some other way.  The absolute beauty, you could just see it in his eyes.  He saw nothing bad in the world. There was nothing bad in the world. And it’s just constant devastation.  It’s a horrific thing to lose your child.”

In the three months since Mason’s death, Medlam has worked as an advocate for safety for children with autism.  “I want him to save all his brothers and sisters that have the same problems and issues that he had,” she said.

Just this year there have been multiple cases of children with autism wandering and drowning. During her presentation, Medlam held up photos of her son and eight other children who died after wandering. The cases below are hauntingly similar.

Click here for an article listing earlier deaths of children with autism due to of wandering.

The proposed Mason Alert is picking up steam, and Medlam hopes that someday, perhaps soon, law enforcement agencies will create a national registry that would contain not only photos and contact information of people at risk for wandering, but their fascinations, locations of nearby hazards such as pools and ponds, how they react under stress, their communication abilities, and how to approach them.

No matter what happens, Mason will go down as a hero for the awareness raised after his tragedy.

Click here for the article about autism wandering and the proposed Mason Alert.  Click here for a video tribute to Mason.