Child with autism found wandering in Valencia Park reunites with family

Posted at 5:25 AM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 21:03:46-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A 4-year-old boy with autism found wandering the streets in Valencia Park early Tuesday morning was reunited with his family.

San Diego police told 10News a neighbor reported seeing the child walking alone at about 4:45 a.m. in the 6000 block of Cervantes Avenue.

Responding officers stayed with the boy and asked him questions as other officers went door-to-door asking residents who he belongs to or if they knew his family.

At about 5:25 a.m., a woman identified as the young boy's sister came by to pick him up.

Police told 10News the boy lives in the 6000 block of Creighton Way, which is near the area where he was found.

10News learned the boy's parents are not facing charges and Child Protective Services is not involved.

Experts say wandering is common among those diagnosed with autism.

"Take Me Home" program

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department's "Take Me Home" program is a regional photo-based information system that helps law enforcement from all over the region during contact those with disabilities such as (but not limited to) autism, dementia, Alzheimer's, Down syndrome, deafness or any other developmental disabilities.

The program provides law enforcement agencies with information such as a full description, routine/favorite attractions, communication, emergency contact information, as well as other special needs the registered person may require.

In 2017, the Department said about 2,000 people were registered in the database. Sheriff spokesperson, Sammy Castañon said within the past year, about 6 people have been reunited with their families through the program. In all of those cases, the missing people had Alzheimer's disease.

Click here for more information, including how to register for the program