My monkey has become a runner. He starts to run if he sees something, or if something doesn’t appease, him or just because. Usually it is unexpected and catches us off guard. I wrote about how he ran away from me while I was trying to open our door and ran down the street.
On Halloween, I would take the monkey to ring the doorbell. I would pass out our Autism Halloween cards, and then ask my son to say thank you – using ALS sign. One of the times, a house had a bowl for candy outside. The bowl was empty but there were bags of candy next to it. As I let go of my son to open one of the bags – he took off. By the time I screamed for my husband, my monkey was already running down the dark street. I had passed maybe ten houses by the time I was able to reach him. He was trying to get to the stop sign in the busy corner.
My son attends occupational therapy and speech therapy. The place that we take him has two buildings – one for each of the therapies. They are close to each other, walking distance. One of the times, my dad was telling me that as they were waiting for my son’s time to go inside OT, another family came in to the waiting room. When they opened the door, the monkey took off to the other building. He was on the street with incoming traffic. My dad was able to reach him before anything happened.
At school, his teacher tells me that when he’s not in the mood to work, he will also run away. He will try to use the emergency exits to leave. Good thing that the gates are always closed. A study just came out this summer in the journal Pediatrics that most kids over the age of four, who have autism, have tried to elope. And this elopeness increasing with the severity of autism. And every time I read in the news about a child that wondered of, and how the parents are unable to find them, all I can think about is this could be us.
This could be my son.
We have decided we need to be proactive. Now, before we unbuckle him from the car seat, we make sure we hold his wrist at all times. My husband installed alarms in the doors in the event my son tries to leave (even though we bolt the doors and he is unable to open them). Another solution will be to talk to our neighbors. Let them know of our son’s condition in the event they see him outside. I have talked to the manager at his therapy place to advise them that this could be serious. I have requested a meeting to discuss ways to try to assist my son from endangering himself by jolting while waiting for his session to start. And last, I will be sending an email to our local police precinct to advise them of my son’s potential predicament.
For now, all I can do is keep making changes to make sure he is safe. And pray like crazy that we are able to protect him.
I think one day he will understand the danger of it all.
I have hope.