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New Diagnostic Code for Autistic Wandering Approved for October, 2011

A very large percentage of people with autism “wander” – meaning they simply get up and walk or run off, for no obvious reason and in no obvious direction. This behavior is by no means limited to people with autism: the Alzheimers community may be even more vulnerable. Wanderers often seem compelled to wander, which means that locked doors and fences aren’t always enough to curb the behavior. And, of course, caregivers can’t possibly be vigilant all day and night, nor should they be asked to lock their loved ones in escape-proof settings.
The result of “wandering” can be tragic, and most of us have read stories of autistic people drowned in pools or dying of exposure.
To address this issue, the CDC has created a somewhat controversial new medical code which can be added to certain diagnoses, including autism, Alzheimers, and dementia. According to a CDC press release:
The , effective October 1, 2011, is designed to promote better data collection for and understanding of wandering and to prompt important discussions about safety among healthcare providers, caregivers, and the person with a disability to the fullest extent possible.
ICD-9-CM Code for Wandering
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