This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Boy Who Escaped Burbank Airport has High-Functioning Asperger's
The teenage boy who left the Burbank airport on Wednesday and was later seen at the Abbey ordering a screwdriver has caused a great deal of speculation. Why did he wander away? And why -- and how -- did he end up all the way in West Hollywood?
At first, it was reported that Cameron James Smith had wandered away because he didn't want to go back to the school he was headed for, which is described only as a "specialized school in Utah." Smith's mom told authorities that the teenager has autism.
But an article in the Burbank Ledger reports that Smith in fact has high-functioning Asperger Syndrome, a much milder form of autism that's generally associated with extremely focused interest on a particular topic, and some difficulty socializing.
According to the National Institutes of Health, "the most distinguishing symptom of AS is a child’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other." They go on: "Unlike the severe withdrawal from the rest of the world that is characteristic of autism, children with AS are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests."
Smith's mother also reportedly told the airline that he is 15, which means that she didn't have to pay for him to fly accompanied. When he went missing, she told authorities that he is 14, then later told them that he's 15.
Curiouser and curiouser.