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New York autistic, mute teen still missing

A 14-year-old boy, who is both autistic and non-verbal, was still missing at the time of the report. He was last seen on surveillance tape leaving the Riverdale School in Long Island City on Oct. 4. Police as well as civilian volunteers have been combing the neighborhoods of Queens, Long island City and Greenpoint, distributing flyers and asking residents for help. The commanding officer of the Rego Park distinct calls finding the teen his "No. 1 effort." A law firm offered a $5,000 reward for the boy's safe return.

The boy's family believes he is still alive but thinks that someone is holding him. Through their lawyer, the family filed a claim notice against the Riverdale School, whom they hold responsible for his safety. The teen was not stopped by a security guard when he left the school, and the family was not notified for an hour and a half after his disappearance.

Autism is a disorder that affects brain development and may result in non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviors. About one in 88 American children are diagnosed as autistic, with boys about four to five times more likely to have the condition than girls.

It is the duty of property owners to prevent conditions that would cause injury or death, especially with regard to children. A growing number of concerns center around premises liability at schools. Those who occupy and own schools are required by law to make sure the premises are safe for those who are legally allowed to be there. If a student has been harmed or if the premises are found not to be safe, an injured child's parents or guardian may file a claim against the school.

Source: Huffington Post, "Avonte Oquendo, Autistic Teen, Still Missing In NYC; Family Clinging To Hope", October 11, 2013

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