WASHINGTON — After Montgomery County Police discovered a set of 22-year-old twins with autism locked inside a dark, urine-soaked basement room, Montgomery County officials and autism advocates are reminding families of those with autism about available local resources.
The twins had been receiving services through Montgomery County.
Their parents, John and Janice Land of Rockville, locked them in the basement at night. The parents in the case reportedly indicated that if they did not lock up the men at night, they would run off.
“When you ask for help, Montgomery County has never had a history of not helping anybody,” Russ Hamill, assistant chief of police for Montgomery County, says.
Maryland and several local jurisdictions provide resources for parents and caretakers of those with autism.
In addition, the Montgomery County Police Department runs Project Lifesaver, another resource for family members of those with autism. Project Lifesaver is designed specifically to help family members locate individuals who may wander off due to a medical or mental condition. Resources include a location tracking device.
The wandering off behavior is called eloping, and research shows nearly half of those with autism wander or bolt from safe places, according to a survey from the Interactive Autism Network.
Hamill says he and autism advocates were puzzled that parents who were plugged into local services for their autistic children resorted to such measures at night.
“Think about it: Does that sound like a reasonable solution? To lock two vulnerable adults into a room in those conditions at any point? Especially when you’re receiving services? When so many services are available?” Hamill asked.
The twins are no longer in the home, and their parents face abuse and false imprisonment charges.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.