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I haven’t shared a lot of information about my family personally yet, so I’d like to start this post out with a little background info. Our son is 4 years old, and he is a non-verbal autistic. He’s full of energy, happiness, and snuggles, with a LOT of mischief sprinkled in as well. When I was a full time employee of a corporation, N was enrolled in daycare. Now that I’m a stay at home mom, he attends pre-k through the local school district.
One of the scariest things you can be told as a mom is that your kid is missing. Most parents probably don’t have to worry about this as much as we do, but as an autistic child, N is prone to “elopement behavior.”
From the National Autism Association:
“What is wandering off (elopement)?
This is the tendency for an individual to try to leave the safety
of a responsible person’s care or a safe area, which can result in
potential harm or injury. This might include running off from
adults at school or in the community, leaving the classroom
without permission, or leaving the house when the family is not
looking. This behavior is considered common and short-lived in
toddlers, but it may persist in children and adults with autism
spectrum disorders (ASDs). Children with ASDs have challenges
with social and communication skills and safety awareness.
This makes wandering a potentially dangerous behavior. “
N likes to run. He LOOOOVES to run. If he could live outside, running, 24/7… I don’t think anything would make him happier. This kid lives and breathes for the outdoors (unlike his mother). N is a sensory seeker. This means that he seeks out sensory input constantly. He needs it to help him self-regulate, and process where his body IS in the world. Certain things like weighed vests/blankets instantly calm him down and he can focus on a task fully, or just derail an impending meltdown. When N doesn’t get the sensory input he is seeking, he FINDS it. If he sees something interesting across a park, he will take off at breakneck speed towards it, completely ignoring any dangers in his path. If he wants a toy in the toy aisle, or sees a particularly fun looking puddle to stomp in, he becomes Jeff Gordon racing past Dale Earnhardt in lap 199 of the Indy 500.
Did they race at the same time? They are the NASCAR right? Gah, my father would be so disappointed in me right now!
Anyway, the point is, N runs. A lot. Quickly. Sometimes we can tell what he is running to (or away from) and others we can’t. Sometimes we don’t see it happening.
I’ve received several horrible phone calls in my almost 30 years. One of the worst was the one I received on the morning of June 9th, 2016. My son’s therapist was calling to ask if I had been informed about the “incident” at his daycare the day before.
Nope, I sure hadn’t.
To make a long story short, his therapist arrived for his session and was filling out some paperwork in her car. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw my son RUNNING PAST HER CAR.
Outside of the daycare.
She got out of her car and called to him, thankfully he turned and started running back towards the facility. At this point his teacher came around the corner.
The children had been playing in the fenced play area to the side of the building, and the gate was not locked. Noah saw that it was open and simply walked out.
This particular daycare was right near an apartment complex and a very busy interstate. Like it was directly off of said interstate.
My stomach dropped. My baby could’ve been hit by a car. Or taken into someone’s apartment. Someone who was Not A Good Person.
These are just two of the awful things that popped into my head, but the fact is 71% of elopement-related deaths are caused by drowning.
N loves water.
We of course put him in a new daycare but that fear as a parent never goes away.
On April 25, 2018, N was all set to attend his first class field trip to a children’s museum. How exciting! My husband’s week of vacation had just started and we were waiting in the pickup line area of the school to follow the busses to the museum. We were due to leave soon, but the busses hadn’t arrived yet. Parents were lining up behind us in their cars, also waiting to attend the field trip. My husband was watching a mom back her car up in the side mirror and said “She’s gonna hit that kid!”
Have you ever had one of those gut-wrenching moments where you just know? You just know something bad is happening to your baby.
Call it mother’s intuition, I guess. I immediately unbuckled and sprang out of the car screeching “That’s OUR kid!”
I hadn’t even seen him yet. In fact, when I did see him, he was dressed in a field trip shirt and not what he had worn to school that morning, but I still knew.
There was my son, happily skipping down the sidewalk next to the bus loading area with no adults in sight.
I immediately ran after him, grabbing his hand and heading back for the school building. N was still skipping, super excited the Mommy was coming to school today! When I got to the door, I saw several teachers in the hallway, his teacher was exiting the bathroom with several other children and I calmly asked “Why the hell was my son running OUTSIDE?!”
Ah, memories that keep you up at night.
All of these situations could have been catastrophic had someone not been there to catch him at the right moment. My son is a Houdini, he can get out of a any room. He recently discovered how to unlock our sliding glass door, close it behind him, and run down the driveway.
Which lead to this lovely glass explosion as we tried to install a different lock on the door.
Life is never dull.
There is ONE tiny, cheap, easy thing that has helped me somewhat sleep at night since his elopement behavior began at the age of two.
N’s RoadID is a small, thin rubber bracelet he wears 24/7 that has his name, states that he is non-verbal, and my phone number as well as an 800 number. Rescue personnel or anyone who finds him can call that number and get his medical info if needed and additional emergency contacts in case I cant be reached.
He’s worn it for two years.
This product can SAVE your child. It can lead you to him or her as soon as someone finds them.
And it costs less than $30.
I know it’s not a perfect fix. It’s band aid at best. But it helps.
It helps you know that if the worst happens, and your child can’t speak up for himself… someone can. SomeTHING can.
This something that would benefit all kids, not just ones with special needs!
I know there are other more advanced products out there, but the fact is N wouldn’t wear them. We had to find something that he would forget about, that wouldn’t aggravate his sensory issues. We put it on while he was sleeping and he honestly barely noticed. I had one myself (for a medical ID) and they are COMFORTABLE. You forget you’re even wearing it.
Plus, it’s cheap! Most of the other options out there aren’t!
RoadID runs a lot of specials and you can google coupon codes for them. I highly reccommend paying the little bit extra for the online profile. I think it was maybe $5-$6 and it’s good for a year.
Another thing I love is that when you order one, you are shipped three different sized bands. So you don’t have to worry about getting the wrong size! At four, N still wears the smallest size available. The next size up gets caught and pulled off just a little too easily.
I really hope that you’ll take a look at this product and see if it can help you. I know it has given me some peace of mind!
And as always, feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions or comments <3