One of the news articles that came into my inbox today was about a 10 year old boy with Autism, who had managed to abscond, but had thankfully been found safe. These sort of news items are not rare – absconding (also called elopement or wandering) is something a lot of parents of children with Autism are all too aware of. Many of us live in daily fear that our child may run away, possibly to drown in a nearby body of water, or to be hit by a car.
I’ve written before about one of the instances of when my son ran away during a time when I was quite ill. It’s a huge stress on me as a parent – having to be constantly monitoring my son’s whereabouts is impossible, but I do the best I can. If I had the money I would invest in security cameras all around our property, as well as prison style fencing (not that our council would approve that I’m sure). Listening for screeching tyres, car horns and screams coming from the direction of the road is a constant factor in my life.
Worry about having the police pay us a visit one day due to the damage my son causes when he gets out of the house is another concern. Let alone the fear of having Child Protective Services possibly pay us a visit as caring parents would obviously not ‘let’ their child play on the street or run off unattended. With Autism however, this is the norm – but I don’t see that making the headlines when it comes to Autism Awareness.
My son is an excellent climber and very mechanically inclined – opening locked doors and gates, or climbing child-proof fencing is not a problem for him. He likes to explore and hates to be confined – which is why we bought a house with a large yard. Apparently the grass is greener on the other side however (not that we have grass at the moment). We have a big climbing frame, swing set, cubby house and various ‘amusements’ in our yard, but this is not always enough. He likes the lure of the ‘outside’ world – where he can find any number of objects to smash into satisfyingly small pieces and leave a trail of destruction in his path. Sometimes we just follow the trail of poo smears to find him…
I’d like to see more stories about that on Autism Awareness day.