Autistic & Non-verbal: Experts Say This Makes Search For Maddox Ritch More Difficult

CHARLOTTE, NC. — With Maddox Ritch being autistic and non-verbal, experts say the search for the six-year-old is much more difficult.

Dr. Frank Gaskill is a child psychologist who treats children who are autistic. He says people on the spectrum are more sensitive to taste, smell and sound. Searchers have been playing recordings of the six-year-old’s parents calling to him.

“That’s a great idea, but depending upon the kid, it you’re really sensitive to sound, that could push you away,” says Dr. Gaskill.

Maddox’s father says he took off running on Saturday when a jogger passed them.

“He usually runs but he’ll slow down or stop to give me a chance to go pick him up,” says Maddox’s father Ian Ritch.

David Laxton with the Autism Society of North Carolina, says it’s not unusual for autistic children to wander off, “They’re focused on what they’re focused on, and they’re not necessarily thinking about you at that time.”

As more days pass, there’s concern about how Maddox is surviving on his own. Dr. Gaskill adding the odds of Maddox having the proper survival skills in the woods, are slim.

“I feel like he’s defenseless. Unfortunately. I hope he’s gone to somebody’s house and somebody can report this,” says Dr. Gaskill.

Dr. Gaskill says many people wit autism find comfort in water, making them more at risk for drowning. Officials keep lowering Rankin Lake, and have not said that they have found anything.