Autistic Boy Survives 5 Days In the Woods

Miraculously, 8-year-old Robert Wood, Jr. survived for five days in the 80-acre North Anna Battlefield Park in Doswell, Virginia, near Richmond. The severely autistic boy, who is non-verbal, wandered away while his father, brother and a friend were taking a break on a walk last Sunday. Some 940 volunteers helped to conduct 74 search missions for Robert. Happily, on Friday night, a volunteer found him lying in a creek bed with his shoes off; those were found nearby.

The searcher “placed a stocking cap on Robert’s head, gloves on his hands, wrapped him in a coat, gave him water to drink and then called 911,” Trice reported.

Trice said he has spoken at length with the searcher, who does not wish to be identified. He said the volunteer wished to issue a brief statement: “I was guided by the Holy Spirit; to take any recognition for finding Robert would take credit away from God.”

Robert was taken to Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical Center and is said to be in stable condition.

Many of the volunteers said that they themselves had a child, a relative, a neighbor who is autistic. Tammy Rogers of Powhatan was one of the first to volunteer to look for Robert; she has two sons who are both autistic and non-verbal, and said that she was so upset about Robert being missing that she spent much of Monday, the day after Robert was reported missing, in tears.

Educators who know Robert say that his being autistic may have helped him survive for so many days in the park, as well as being the reason he wandered away in the first place:

“The first thing that I thought of when I heard that he was missing and I went up there to go look for him is this kid’s going to be OK. He’s a very tough kid, he’s a very resilient kid, he’s resourceful in his own way,” said Adam Dreyfus, who met Robert when Dreyfus was working on a program in the Caroline County school system. He is now a technical assistant with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence.

“He’s a … determined little boy, and I knew that … given enough time that we were going to find him because he would be able to kind of navigate his way out there and keep himself out of trouble.”

For one thing, Robert might not have been aware of how unsafe his situation was and as a result probably didn’t become as panicked as another child might. He might not have been as receptive to the temperatures and to being hungry, said Kathy Mathews, executive director of education at The Faison School for Autism, where Robert started in September.

I routinely read about autistic children wandering off; my own 14-year-old son Charlie has done this. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that “wandering” will be classified as a medical diagnosis for autistic children. Educators and parents go out of their way not only to prevent a child from wandering and going missing, but — one has to be realistic — strategizing about how to teach a child to know what to do in such a situation, such as recognizing who a policeman is (and who isn’t — a very difficult thing to teach). Most autistic children who wander very likely do not think they are lost. According to a Research Report: Elopement and Wandering by the Interactive Autism Network, a third of autistic children who wander or elope are “never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number verbally or by writing/typing.”

Charlie now carries identification in the form of a card with his name, our cell phone numbers and a statement about his autism diagnosis and minimal speech. But we also have to teach him to show his ID when asked. There are tracking devices such as the Care Trak tracking device and we have some friends whose children wear devices provided by Project Lifesaver; if Charlie were to wear one, we would have to teach him to wear it and not try constantly to take it off.

Most of all, I’m more than grateful that Robert was found on Friday night, before Saturday’s storm hit — thank you, thank you to the anonymous rescuer — and hope he can be soon back home, safe and sound.

Related Care2 Coverage

Autistic Boy Runs Away From School, Found After 24 Hours

After Autistic Girl’s Death, Questions About Why Tracking Device Did Not Work

Summer Hazards: 8-year-old NJ autistic boy drowns in pond

 


Photo by maliciousmonkey

102 comments

Colleen Maranda
Colleen B.4 years ago

Regarding peer-reviewed medical articles --

Dr Ben Goldacre is an epidemiologist, academic and best-selling author of "Bad Science", "Bad Pharma" and other books. He delivered a TED Talk in June 2012 and warns -

“Positive findings are around twice as likely to be published as negative findings. This is a cancer at the core of evidence-based medicine.”

John Duqesa
Past Member 5 years ago

Ah Colleen, now you are miraculously able to perform remote diagnoses. Your snake oil compound must be working.

John Duqesa
Past Member 5 years ago

Hello Colleen M..

Oh dear. I said:--

So, if there are all of these peer reviewed articles, you could point me in the direction of a couple right? I note that you have not done so.

You have still not done this. Quackery then.

I repeat:--

Please give me the links to peer reviewed articles in the Lancet or the NEJM that endorse this product as a "symptom alleviator" for autism and the 89 other conditions which you mentioned and which endorse the alleged research done by these unnamed "2 Polish doctors".

Can you do it? I don't think so. And why I don't think so is that I have done a search of their archives and this quackery is not endorsed in any way.

So, it's snake oil that preys on the fears and pockets of the credulous. Utterly disgusting.

Colleen Maranda
Colleen B.5 years ago

“… preys on the fears and pockets”. What a cockeyed view, considering corporations (therefore profit motive) heavily influence medical research, medical training and practitioner behaviour.
Yet, you insist people should place their entire trust in the medical industry! Too funny.

One correction: regarding magnesium and neurological diseases, the recorded evidence is from observational and experimental studies (too numerous to list here).

Interested people might want to explore the vast info from Dr Carolyn Dean MD ND. Her website and blog - drcarolyndean.com.

John Duqesa
Past Member 5 years ago

Hello Colleen M..

So, if there are all of these peer reviewed articles, you could point me in the direction of a couple right? I note that you have not done so.

Please give me the links to peer reviewed articles in the Lancet or the NEJM that endorse this product as a "symptom alleviator" for autism and the 89 other conditions which you mentioned and which endorse the alleged research done by these unnamed "2 Polish doctors".

Can you do it? I don't think so. And why I don't think so is that I have done a search of their archives and this quackery is not endorsed in any way.

So, it's snake oil that preys on the fears and pockets of the credulous. Utterly disgusting.

Colleen Maranda
Colleen B.5 years ago

To John D: "What should we call it?" You should call it magnesium - essential to all living cells, it's the third most abundant element dissolved in seawater and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust.

By applying clean, condensed seawater to the skin people will also benefit from the other minerals present in seawater. Due to its consistency it is called "magnesium oil".

The Internet teems with peer reviewed articles. I've done my part here to inform people of a well researched and reported health crisis that can be easily and affordably treated.

You've done your part, to persuade people to dismiss critical information. Well done, hero.

colleen p.
colleen p.5 years ago

"For one thing, Robert might not have been aware of how unsafe his situation was and as a result probably didn’t become as panicked as another child might. "

I thought that was a hallmark of Autism?

TERRY R.
TERRY R.5 years ago

FOUND ALIVE & WELL IS EVERYTHING.

John Duqesa
Past Member 5 years ago

"Magnesium "oil" is actually pure, condensed seawater"

Good grief. And she says it's not snake oil.

I asked you very specifically where the peer revewed articles for this, what should we call it, "symptom reducer" for 89 conditions are and you have been very careful not to answer. I can only assume it's a hoax.

Colleen Maranda
Colleen B.5 years ago

Re comments by John D:

Yes, an open mind is important in ALL things, this case included.

Bias is different; it closes the mind. It caused you to misquote me. I did not mention "cure". Re autism, ADD & ADHD I said, "significantly reduced symptoms over six months" because nearly all these children are magnesium deficient and need it through the skin (NOT orally). Regarding 89 other conditions/diseases, I said most American adults also need to address their magnesium deficiency (transdermally).

Magnesium "oil" is actually pure, condensed seawater and is currently prescribed by various medical practitioners (as I said), yet you call it "snake oil". Magnesium is needed for virtually every bodily function and when "developed" nations allowed BigAg to ruin the soil, magnesium was depleted in soil, therefore in food and therefore in most peoples' bodies - severely.

Google will lead you to evidence for increased autism, ADD, Parkinsons' and depression. Observe for yourself, the epidemic of high blood pressure, cholesterol, stiff joints, calcified arteries, strokes, so-called "natural ageing" (just to name a tiny few).

While you maintain a wide open mind about reported miracles - and you should - consider also viewing all facts behind BigAg, BigCorp, BigPharma and the resultant lucrative Sickness Industry (without overlooking that BigPharma sponsors medical schools).

BigPharma is not allowed to patent nature with its plethora of safe remedies (like natural magnes