Devine Farrier-2009

State Route 99 is a busy roadway, with cars flying by. Eleven-year-old Devine Farrier was trying to cross it Saturday when he was hit by a one ton flatbed pick-up truck.

He died Sunday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

His family had reported the autistic boy had disappeared from his Sea-Tac home just 15 minutes earlier, and in that time he had wandered through the woods and onto the freeway without any shoes.

You may be wondering why an 11-year-old child was walking on State Route 99 all alone, but for parents of children with autism it’s something they worry about all the time. In fact, the National Autism Association found in a recent study that 92 percent of parents with children with autism consider those children at risk for wandering away.

Autism is a complex disorder that affects social interaction and communication. Lakeside Center for Autism in Issaquah educates and helps families and their children cope with the disorder.

It doesn’t surprise them that Devine walked away from home and onto a highway.

“It can be a common problem for most any of these kids,” said Dan Stachelski, Ex. Dir. Lakeside Center For Autism. “Part of the reason is they don’t have the internal motivation or internal feeling about being safe, about being protected by family members, about being connected to their parents to know that it’s not safe to leave their side.”

Protecting a child with autism can be difficult and expensive, from locks on doors to GPS systems, but the community can help as well.

“That’s what they need, they need help and this is an epidemic that’s not going anywhere,” said Stachelski.

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