Autistic 4 Year Old Boy Found Dead Nearly 2 Days After Going Missing

A 4-year-old autistic boy from New York who vanished from his grandmother’s house in South Carolina Christmas Eve has been found dead, officials told NBC’s Myrtle Beach affiliate WMBF News.

The body of Jayden Morrison, of White Plains, was found around 11 a.m. Friday in a retention pond behind two homes, not far from where he went missing less than 48 hours earlier, the Horry County Coroner’s Office told WMBF News.

The boy, who had last been seen wearing only his pajamas, apparently drowned; investigators said at a news conference Friday his body was found by a medic volunteer.

Hundreds of emergency workers and volunteers searched through Christmas Day for the little boy. His mother had left him with his grandmother while she went to Wal-Mart Wednesday evening, and when the grandmother turned her back for a moment, the child was gone, police said.

Divers searched ponds in a 5-square mile area near the community between Myrtle Beach and the North Carolina border. Drones, helicopters and four-wheelers also were used in the search.

The child’s mother, Tabatha Morrison, told WMBF News Thursday that the family arrived at her mother’s house on Christmas Eve day from New York and pleaded for help in finding him.

“He’s never been out of our eyesight, he’s never walked out of the door before,” the mother said with tears in her eyes. “And they’ve searched everywhere. Where could he be?”

She had said her son is non-communicative and likely would not be able to find his way home because he is not familiar with his grandmother’s neighborhood.

The mother said that Jayden’s twin, Jordan, stayed up until 4 a.m. Christmas morning waiting for his brother to return home. The child’s father also joined the search Thursday.

Thousands send mail to boy with autism who wants letters for Christmas

BLAINE, Washington, U.S.A. — A boy with autism put something peculiar on his Christmas list – mail.

Twelve-year-old William Thomas’ wish quickly went viral, and the response since then has been overwhelming.

“I go about three times a day,” explained Kay Thomas, during one of many trips to the postal store in Blaine.

Her P.O. box can’t possibly hold another envelope. And then there are the packages. She’s getting about a dozen a day.

Kay ran out of places to stash all of the boxes and letters at home, so she rented a storage unit, which is now filled with mail.

Any other time of year all this might seem like a hassle, but this season, she couldn’t ask for anything more.

A few days before Thanksgiving, she posted a note to Facebook asking family and friends to send William a card or letter for Christmas. William loves mail, and Kay wanted him to have plenty of envelopes under the Christmas tree.

Within a few weeks, the request was shared by thousands, and mail started arriving from around the world. People also sent T-shirts, books and paintings.

“Thank you for making my son’s dream come true, thank you for granting wishes, thank you for sharing the love, restoring my faith in humanity. Thank you for everything,” said Thomas.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.

Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism Speaks continues to fund research on effective methods for earlier diagnosis, as early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes. Increasing autism awareness is a key aspect of this work and one in which our families and volunteers play an invaluable role.
How Common Is Autism?

Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. Careful research shows that this increase is only partly explained by improved diagnosis and awareness. Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

ASD affects over 3 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Moreover, government autism statistics suggest that prevalence rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years. There is no established explanation for this continuing increase, although improved diagnosis and environmental influences are two reasons often considered.
What Causes Autism?

Not long ago, the answer to this question would have been “we have no idea.” Research is now delivering the answers. First and foremost, we now know that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.

In the presence of a genetic predisposition to autism, a number of nongenetic, or “environmental,” stresses appear to further increase a child’s risk. The clearest evidence of these autism risk factors involves events before and during birth. They include advanced parental age at time of conception (both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy and certain difficulties during birth, particularly those involving periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain. It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination with genetic risk factors, they appear to modestly increase risk.

A growing body of research suggests that a woman can reduce her risk of having a child with autism by taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid and/or eating a diet rich in folic acid (at least 600 mcg a day) during the months before and after conception.

Increasingly, researchers are looking at the role of the immune system in autism. Autism Speaks is working to increase awareness and investigation of these and other issues, where further research has the potential to improve the lives of those who struggle with autism.
What Does It Mean to Be “On the Spectrum”?

Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world. Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means. Autism Speaks’ mission is to improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support.