The first of many terrifying thoughts.
They say time slows down in emergencies. When your child is missing, it doesn’t. I feel like it speeds up.
You’re child is gone. You are running out of time.
Without thinking, I run, grab my keys, tell my daughter to watch her brother, and race off in the car while calling 911. We have created an emergency plan with our girl for times like this. We have a third phone at home so she can make calls if she needs. She also has a plan on how to get help from neighbors if she should need it, and who to go to, as well as what constitutes a 911 call.
I race around the city, driving the routes Taylor is known to go. And because he has no traffic safety skills and runs into traffic, the whole time I am driving, I am not only looking for him on the sidewalk, I’m checking the middle of the streets for stopped cars or people looking alarmed. Every time I would see a grouping of cars in the median, my heart would stop. I’m not kidding. It would actually stop and skip a beat for a moment.
A mother shouldn’t have to search to see if her child has died.
It’s terrifying. Horrifying. It’s surreal.
Surreal…That’s the only thing that saves you from collapsing from the stress. Part of you thinks, This can’t be real. Slightly removing your sense of reality allows you to think more rationally and less emotionally. Your mind flies to all the possible dangers your child could be in, and it is torture knowing you cannot be there to protect and/or save them.
I’m telling the operator where I’ve been so she can relay to the officers where not to look. Then the 911 operator says those three coveted words, “They’ve found him!” and tells me where to go. My heart leaps then calms, and my lungs can finally take in a full breath. He is safe.
He will keep trying. Why? I don’t know. I can only guess. Some would venture that maybe he doesn’t even know. I think he does, and I’m glad he does. That means that I have a chance of, at some point, knowing too.
I reach the location that the police have found him and as I get out of the car, my insides cry but I don’t. My job is not done. I have to talk to the police.
Our police have been so kind, helpful, and understanding to us, and of us. They take the time to observe all we have done to keep this from happening and to keep him safe. They see that we care, and they have treated Taylor with the utmost respect and dignity. One officer told me he responded to the call that he responded to because he wanted Taylor to meet him so that next time he wouldn’t be a stranger to him. At the end of the encounter, I said “Please don’t take offence to this, but you know what I mean when I say ‘I hope I don’t see you again.'”
He said “If you do, it’s ok.”, and smiled.
Half of autistic people are or will become runners. As you’ve probably read in the news or saw on TV, there are tons of stories that don’t end well, or last a lot longer than 5-15 minutes. But it only takes 30 seconds to get hit by a car…or to find water. A staggering percentage of deaths of autistic individuals is drowning.
Among the plethora of concerns for families dealing with autism, includes addressing water safety practices as early as possible in a child’s life,” said Dr. Gibbs. “Although water safety is a concern for all parents, children with autism are especially at a higher risk for drowning because they may seek isolation by fleeing to unfamiliar territories.”
-Dr Varleisha Gibbs, OTD, OTR/L, occupational therapy professor at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
As reported by www.newswise.com , “According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for approximately 90 percent of total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement in 2009 to 2011. Furthermore, research indicates that nearly 50 percent of children with autism attempt to escape from a safe environment — a rate nearly four times higher than children without autism.”
This is one of the examples of stress that families with autism experience. We have special security measures, locks, and window locks in place to keep him inside. Yet, there is still a danger.
Our son is safe…until next time, but hopefully there won’t be a next time.
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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