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Military Kids with Autism Face Special Challenges

Freddie Williams, Age 14, Autism, Wanders, Drowns

Freddie WilliamsManaging Editor's Note: We have had the grim task of informing readers of three children with autism who wandered and drown in May. And now - a fourth. Freddie Williams, of Webb City, Missouri. Our condolences to his family. From our hearts. Please support  the National Autism Association Big Red Safety Box program. From KOAM-TV:

The story of a missing boy takes a tragic turn as police report the child's body was found early Thursday morning. More than a thousand people searched the Webb City area Wednesday night for Freddie Williams, 14, but despite their best efforts, he was found Thursday at about 8 a.m. in a private pond off of Madison, just north of Webb City High School. Authorities say he apparently died from drowning.




Oh, Julie;
I cannot tell you how sorry I am for your lose.

Thank you for telling us he could swim.

I meant nothing by my comment - except one more extra thing that young parents really - do need to teach their childern.

I will confess that mine could swim, we even had a pool, and I let him swim alone at times -and I should not have. He liked to reinact the sinking of the Titanic.

He also had seizures -like standing in the middle of the room and pulling at his shirt - looking lost. Yet the medical people said he was fine. They made me as a parent doubt myself, and yet I did sort of know there was something not right about what the docs were saying.

So even knowing how to swim there is that - and those teen years is when it becomes worse.

Julie there is greater power, and your son will be taken care of. It does not mean though that our hearts will not break untill we too find our way to the shore.

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
- John Donne, Meditation XVII

We all are diminished at Freddy's passing.

Teresa Conrick

Dear Julie,

My prayers to you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing that learning to swim may not stop this tragedy. Your comment may save others.


I am the mother of one of the recent victims. My son was a good swimmer. It is a very important skill, but it did not prevent what happened in his case.


Jeannette Bishop - Does she feel differently in putting her face in and under calm water - or does that bother her too?

Terrance Wethington

They may want to investigate this further as the mother has had close to a dozen of investigations from DFS for alleged abuse of Fred!!

Lind Brickley

My son loves water, too. Luckily, he does quite well in our small pool at home, and at public pools, as far as swimming and holding his breath under water. But we rarely go to lakes or larger bodies of water to swim. Matt has no fear or concept of danger. We went to swim in the ocean in the Keys last year and he loved it, but I spent the whole time in anticipatory panic. I just don't know if his skills in a pool would help him in a pond or other natural body of water, and I can't think of a good way to find out without taking a huge risk.

Cindy Puddephatt

News items like this make me feel sick to my stomach. It's so heartbreaking to think of these poor kids dieing like that. I worry about my own son every day. Wandering is such a huge problem and the older the child gets the harder it is to keep them safe.

Jeannette Bishop

My daughter hates water in the face and adjusting to getting in a pool, etc. Here is one aversion that part of me fears she might someday overcome--and yet, also, if she is unable to really learn to swim and somehow needs to one day...

There are sometimes no certain choices (though attempting to avoid the developmental injury in the first place would be on top of my if-I-had-a-do-over list).

My prayers are with all of these families so separated.


Oh, so horrible.
You never know how autism is going to affect someone. It seems to be very individual -- but it seems like they must have this affinity to water in common.

Mine had it too. Jump right in over their heads and just stand or sit there - not even struggeling.

That is why if they get any age on them at all, they need to be taught to swim.

I can't help noticing that a lot of them makes excellent swimmers.

In the fairy tales that are told after this age -I perdict- they will tell tales of how so many kids were changelings, but it won't be faries and elves - but merpeople.

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