If you live in New York City, authorities want to be sure you're on the lookout for Avonte Oquendo. Fliers featuring the 14-year-old's face have gone up all over town, and subway conductors have been urging passengers to be on the lookout, and helicopters are even scanning for signs of him from the sky, USA Today reports. Oquendo has severe autism, and his family says he's non-verbal and has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. He wandered away from his Queens school 12 days ago.
About half of all children with autism will at some point try to escape a safe environment, according to one autism advocacy group. Generally, they "wander to something of interest, especially water, or away from something that is bothersome, such as uncomfortable noise or bright lights," the organization said. Oquendo's family has also set up a Facebook page to keep people updated on the search, and reached out to Al Sharpton for help. A $70,000 reward is being offered for information on his whereabouts.