Although Boo is not autistic, she exhibits a lot of similar behavior. This weekend I read an article in Outside magazine titled “Little Boy Lost” by Dan King (http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/outdoor-skills/survival/Catch-Me-If-You-Can-20120801.html?page=all) . It is about an 8YO autistic boy that was lost for five days in the forest. In the article they state that it is estimated that “40 percent of children with autism will go missing at some point in their lives” (page 75 section 4 of the article).
It happened to Boo this week. She not only escaped from her classroom, she wandered quite far from the class into the hallways of the school.
Fast-forward six-months and Boo’s teacher not only requests an assigned aide, an updated IEP and a transition to a dedicated special needs class for half the day. This new program began this summer. Again, we expressed to the teachers & aides of Boo’s tendency to wander. It was agreed that all doors would be shut and that Boo would have a person assigned to her well-being w
Thursday it happened. One teacher thought the other was working with Boo, when they notice the door was opened (handicapped, so much easier to open for Boo!) and no Boo to be found. They were unsure how much time had elapsed, quickly got coverage for the other children in the class and went to on a Boo hunt.
This is when I know that Boo has a guardian angel looking out for her well-being. As this is the summer, the school is not locked to the public and the front doors were wide open. Had Boo taken a left out of the classroom she would have been a short walk to the great outdoors. Had this been during the traditional school year, there would have been students milling around and she might have been tripped or run down by an energetic child.
But she took a right turn and ended up in the middle of the school. Quite a distance away from her class, but still a right turn. One that led her into the relative safety of the indoors. Thankfully her teachers found her in short-order, thankfully she is fine and this was a lesson learned for all of us.
Her daddy, rightfully so, went nuclear when I told him. He didn’t understand why I was calm about the incident.
First, I have been waiting for this to happen for six months and was just thankful that it happened in a somewhat controlled manner. Secondly, we are not saints and it has happened to us! In the front yard, blink for a moment and she is gone. Sure the teachers were warned but until it happened they would not believe us. Lastly, I do not want to ever think the teachers cannot tell us something. I want them to know I not only will I not ‘overreact’ I will work with them to figure out a solution that will work in the school and home too.
I wasn’t going to post about what happened on Thursday. But after reading the Outside magazine article, I felt compelled to share the story. Boo was missing for, at most, 10 minutes and I was completely unaware. Because Boo is virtually non-verbal, had her teachers not told me, I would have never known. Had Boo taken a left-turn and been found by a stranger she would not have been able to give them any information. Even scarier, had she taken a left and gone unnoticed she very easily could have run into the busy street. She is so petite, a driver may not have noticed until too late. The what-if scenarios are endless and nightmarish.
If 40% of autistic children ‘elope’ how can they not figure out why? With all the money in medical research, they can figure out how to keep a man happy but not our children safe.
Personally, I am going to see if they can get a door alarm for Boo’s class. I am going to look into a medical alert bracelet for her to wear with her name and number (the trick will be making her wear it). I may even go the extreme and start labeling the inside of her clothes!
I would be very thankful for any other ideas. What do you do to make sure your child is safe if they wander?
40% of autistic children go missing. Thank God Boo took a right-turn.