Wandering and getting lost is a fear any parent has, whether with autism or typically developing. The worst pains a parent can go through is to have their child missing not knowing whether they’re safe, dead or alive. May God protect our children from any harm.
Wandering is a common threat to autistic children. The children dont know that they’re doing it, they’re in their own little world and get easily distracted, they may follow something they find interesting unaware of their surroundings and where their family has gone. The child being non-verbal or with limited speech is at even more danger, unable to tell a trusting adult any useful information. Some parents will label their child’s clothing or acquire one of these. There are several stories in the news of children going missing or wandering off, and the ending of those stories have gone both ways.
Alhamdullah I dont have that problem with Bilal but it is still something I worry about and whenever we go out we keep a very close eye on him, reminding him constantly to stay close by and we’re thankful that he’s recently learned his full name and age, I know at this age he should know his address, phone number, parent’s names and phone numbers but we’re taking it one day at a time and making sure he’s always safe. I have 1 wandering story for Bilal that took place the day before his second birthday. This is copy and pasted from a journal I keep that I wrote soon after the event.
“We were in Saudi Arabia at the time and lived in an apartment building, you’d have to go up a flight of stairs to reach our apartment. So I was in the bathroom emptying the washing machine preparing to hang the clothes up to dry, hubby was outside at his desk working on some accounts. The doorbell rings incessantly and I can hear my 2 year old crying pretty badly, thinking that maybe the sound of the doorbell surprised him as it did me, we weren’t expecting anyone at all, he’s usually so excited when it rings, I let my hubby answer the door, a bit later he comes to me carrying our son saying the guy downstairs just brought him, he was out in the street. Oh my! I was shocked but my typical self doesnt react at the occurence of an event, usually afterward I might break down and cry, let it all out …. I could see that he was unhurt and all I said at the time was “the cat must have followed him outside too” so my hubby goes and finds the cat outside hiding under the stairs.
Later that day as I was preparing dinner I let it all out and cried some imagining all the stuff that could have happened but thankfully hadn’t… if he was really in the street like the guy that works in one of the shops downstairs says then he could have easily been hit by a car, he could have easily been taken by someone, and as he went out barefoot he could have stepped onto something sharp and hurt himself. I imagined myself talking to police telling them what he was wearing and showing them recent pictures. He also had a poopy diaper and was in a onsie, totally appears like neglectful parents, we arent, always have an eye on him but for some reason neither one of us heard the front door opening. I felt horrible, and kept thanking God that nothing happened and that he’s safe and sound. I think it was a wake up call to be more careful and thankful and not take anything for granted. After I changed him and washed his feet, hubby took him to the door and very sternly told him to not open it again and that it was a big NO NO. The whole event kinda scared him, even before we reprimanded him, he was crying and seemed shook up, he’s not really used to strangers, so i’m sure the guy that brought him up scared him as well.
The cat that I mentioned isn’t even ours, we were kitty sitting for a friend of hubby’s while he goes on vacation. So the cat could have been hurt or taken as well, also to make matters worse is that the cat is in heat and meowing so loudly for a tomcat that she could have been impregnated by a stray, but thankfully that didn’t happen either.
What I think happened was that my son was playing with the door and it opened and the cat ran out, or the cat being in heat was hanging around the front door maybe even reaching out for the handle, so Bilal may have opened the door for her, so he ran out to follow her, when the guy downstairs saw him, the cat ran and hid under the stairs. I don’t think he would go out barefoot and on his own down a flight of stairs and outside of the building like that. He knows that he needs to get dressed to go out and he wouldnt go so far alone, but you never know really. So we installed a chain to the door and keeping it shut at all times and praying that nothing like this ever happens again God willing.”
I don’t think I need to remind parents to look after their children and keep a close eye on them, especially if your child is on the spectrum they need even more attention.
Please read this for more information: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110420143702.htm