A Heartbreaking Loss Has Sparked an Effort to Keep Kids With Autism Safe


Just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 28, the body of 3-year-old Cameron Thomas was found in the wetlands near his family’s home in Chesapeake, Virginia. Cameron, who had autism, is believed to have exited the home through a window shortly after 6 p.m., according to WAVY News.

A local search party found the child, and the following day a spokesperson for the Chesapeake Police confirmed Cameron’s cause of death was drowning.

Cameron’s father, Cody Thomas, spoke with 13News Now about how the family is coping with the tragedy. “I’m going to miss him every day for the rest of my life,” Thomas said. “I don’t think there’s gonna be a minute that goes by that I don’t think about him. Same with his mom.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral costs, and any leftover donations will be given to other families of children with autism who deal with elopement. So far $13,950 has been raised, with the original target of $10,000.

“All remaining proceeds will go to helping the autism chapter of Hampton Roads get GPS trackers for families who can’t afford them, so this never happens to another child again,” the page reads.

Elopement, or wandering, is a daily struggle for many parents of children with autism — 49 percent of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a tendency to wander or bolt from safe settings, according to the National Autism Association. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children with ASD, accounting for approximately 90 percent of fatalities.

Many families say they haven’t received professional advice or guidance aboout elopement, but a number of resources exist. Autism Speaks provides a list with a number of GPS tracking devices on the “Safety Products” section of its website, and clothing company Independence Day Wearable Tech sells apparel implanted with trackers.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Applebee’s Will Finally Pay Employee With Autism

Caleb Dyl made headlines earlier this month when a reporter uncovered that the 21-year-old had worked at an Applebee’s restaurant in Middletown, Rhode Island, for nearly a year without getting paid. After dozens of news outlets then covered the story, a rep from the restaurant confirmed Dyl will finally be compensated for all 480 of the hours [...]

Internet Rallies to Remove Facebook Page Linking People With Autism to Shootings

The autism community is in an uproar about the fact that Facebook has yet to confirm removal of the group page “Families Against Autistic Shooters.” Though Forbes reported the page was taken down on Sunday, it was online again on Monday morning, only to appear down again by Monday afternoon. In a screenshot of the Facebook page, posted [...]

Mom Writes Touching Note to Cop Who Knew How to Help Her Son With Autism

A mom in South Carolina wrote a touching thank you message to the highway patrolman who helped her and her son Jeriah, who has autism, when the two were recently stranded on a busy freeway. The mother, who would like to remain anonymous, expressed how grateful she is in an e-mail sent to Trooper/Lance Cpl. Adam Klimek. Officer [...]

New Film Puts the Spotlight on Important Issues With Teens and Autism

Though this isn’t the first time a character on the autism spectrum has been the focus of a film, the latest reviews of “A Brilliant Young Mind” are leading us to believe it’s one well worth watching. Nathan Ellis (played by Asa Butterfield) is diagnosed with autism as a young child, and by the time [...]