An Empirical Model for Individualized Assessment and Treatment of Two Types of Elopement: Goal-Directed Bolting and Aimless Wandering
Wayne W. Fisher, Ph.D., (University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: The results of a number of within-subject studies have shown that individuals with autism elope for three main reasons: to gain access to preferred items, to escape undesirable settings or activities, or to gain attention from others (e.g., Piazza et al., 1997; Rapp, Vollmer, & Hovanetz, 2005). In contrast to this goal-directed bolting, some children with autism wander without a clear course because of skill deficits and/or a lack of recognition of potential dangers (e.g., oncoming cars, swimming pools). These children have not been successfully taught to discriminate between safe and unsafe environments or to monitor and maintain safe proximity to caregivers. Despite the clear impact elopement has on the health, safety, and well-being of these individuals and their families, no comprehensive treatment approaches to the assessment and treatment of goal-directed bolting and wandering have been empirically validated. In this presentation, Dr. Fisher will discuss a comprehensive model aimed at (a) distinguishing elopement from wandering and (b) developing treatments for problems of elopement and wandering that are uniquely tailored to assessment outcomes. The preliminary results suggest that this comprehensive model can lead to more effective treatments.
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