20150707_075057He’s gone!

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.

For now…

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 http://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.

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A view of the type of expensive locks we have on our doors.
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Another view of our door locks.

Our son is safe…until next time, but hopefully there won’t be a next time.

Sarah

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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Sarah

8 Comments on The First Five Minutes

  1. Omg how scary :-/ so glad the police officers were so understanding and helpful! People always want to talk so negative about cops but most of them aren’t that bad!

  2. This is just so scary. I can only imagine the panic and anxiety and fear you felt. My little ones will often just take off down the street and it scares me so much. It just takes a split second for something bad to happen. I’m so glad the police found your son, and that they seem so nice and helpful.
    Shann Eva recently posted…Road trip part 3 – Sheboygan, WIMy Profile

    • Thanks! I think he’s run off a total of 5 or 6 times in a year and a half, and two extra in the last two months of school when he ran from the school. Love our police, though. I came across one,as I was walking, parked on the side of my street. I said hi to him, and he asked how Taylor was doing, remembering his name and all about him!

  3. How scary! Wandering can be a problem for so many families of kids with autism. I was contatced recently by a woman who is starting a company making id patches that can be adhered to your child’s clothes and then scanned. She had the idea after her son wandered away. I hope that you don’t have to go through this again!
    Shelah recently posted…Nature Number Art ChallengeMy Profile

    • How cool! Unfortunately, Taylor has a habit of stripping down, so we are looking into lo-jack type of devices :(. I’d tattoo and microchip him if I could. Anything to keep him safe.

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