Sounds like the beginning of a really good country song, unfortuneately, it was one of the worst days of my life (so far).
Many of you know, a great many ASD kiddos are what we in the community like to call “runners”. Not that they like to run (as in marathons and exercise) but as in, given the right opportunity, they will leave. No warning. No reason. Just gone.
My little guy, Mr. Toes, is one of those kids. We have known this since he was 2 and managed to escape out the front door with my pearl necklace to go over to the next door neighbors house to look at his rock garden. Since then, we have always taken precautions to make sure any locks we buy are two step procedure-like mechanisims and that they are so high up on the door that even standing on a chair with phone books (yes, he tried it) he cannot reach it.
But with our move to Miami, we did not think about one thing…..the screened in patio. We never had a concern before at our other house so it never occured to us, that it would be a problem here. (Insert: nodding head, smirk, oh you silly parent lecture).
So…..with the kid happily playing, not on the patio, but inside, I decide to go to the bathroom. Why, because momma’s got to pee, that’s why. When I come back out, he’s gone. Nothing. Silence. I start to look around and notice the sliding door to the patio is open, when I go out, I see the screen is ripped off of the frame, and no Mr. Toes. My other son and I start screaming and running around the house looking for him. Nothing. More. G-d Awful. Silence. And then the horror of the situation sinks in. It took every ounce of my abilities to not curl into a fetal position and completely shut down. Thank G-d my neighbors heard me screaming and they split up to search the neighborhood for him. While they were doing that, I called the police. Trying to explain in a reasonable tone to the 911 dispatcher that my kid is missing and he has autism and cannot speak or truly understand others, was so frustrating. But within 1 minute of my call to them, I could hear sirens all over my neighborhood!! Within 4 minutes of my call, they had my son in a car coming back to me! By the grace of G-d, he was safe, and coming home to me. Thank you G-d! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
While I wept in my neighbors arms, my other son tried calling his dad to tell him what was going on and to come home (but because he has a processing disorder, the information he was giving out was completely foreign to my husband) so I finally just yelled out for him to get home! Pretty soon, I had 11 cop cars, 5 neighbors, two sets of Grandparents, my husband, both my sons and a Department of Children and Families Caseworker at my home! Ugh.
When the cop who picked him up talked to me, he asked who Abba was? I told him that was his Grandmother’s name. Why? My son apparently was on his way there. Oh. My. G-d! He was trying to cross a major Boulevard. I felt like throwing up. I couldn’t wait for these people to leave so I could just sit quiet like in the dark with a nice bottle of Jack Daniels.
I was numb and paralyzed for days after this incident. Completely freaked out. Still, to this day, it is hard for me to recall and go over those events.
I cannot stress this enough, but vigilence with these children is top priority. My house is like Fort Knox, with multiple locks on every door plus individual alarms on every door and window. Now, when I have to go to the bathroom, I have to make sure every lock and alarm is in place before I go. Fun times, right? But, we have not had a repeat of that horrible day. Thank G-d!
What procedures have you put into place to keep your child safe from himself?