Mother of runaway autistic teen fears another incident

19-year-old Hunter Valant left his northeast side home Monday evening and wasn┬┐t found until Tuesday night.

The mother of an Indianapolis autistic teen who was found Tuesday night after being missing for nearly 30 hours told Fox59, she fears another similar incident.

19-year-old Hunter Valant left his home Monday evening and never came back. Emergency responders and volunteers searched for him throughout his northeast side neighborhood, but couldn’t find him.

His mother Jacque McGuire said she feared the worst.

"I just kept thinking that this can't be it, this can't be how it ends," she said. At that point I'd already prepared myself for the worst."

Finally, late Tuesday, two neighbors found the teen in their shed.

"It's surreal to look out any window in your home and you see every square inch with flashlights looking for my kid," she said as got teary eyed. "They said they wouldn't stop and they didn't stop and I'm so grateful for it."

Valant is autistic and has Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare condition that makes him want to eat uncontrollably. McGuire said these conditions make him more susceptible to running away and she fears he will do it again.

A recent study funded by Autism Speaks confirms, wandering is common among people with autism.

It also found 'nearly half of parents reported that a child with ASD had attempted to wander or run away at least once after age 4. More than half of these children went missing long enough to cause worry. Many involved close calls with traffic and drowning.

In addition, McGuire said, wanting to run away is "very common" with Prader-Willi syndrome.

That means she has to watch Valant at all times. She said he used to wear a Project Lifesaver bracelet that used GPS technology to track him, but he would cut off the band. A few months ago, funding for the project ran out leaving her without many options.

Now she hopes this incident will show the community how important such programs and tools are for families like hers.

"To fund something like that seems like that would be a much better economically sound program than what happened the past 48 hours," she said.

She also wants to raise awareness about her son’s conditions so people understand why he runs away. She hopes one day, with the help of other families in her situation and state legislators, she can build group homes and create a better life for her son.

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