I’ve had to jump fences to catch my sons. Follow Anwar’s tracks in the snow outside of my house to find him. Race down streets calling out their names. Rescue them before they bounded into the deep end of the pool, the lifeguard’s whistle blowing behind us.
Savion walked out of our house once, and he was returned to me by the police shortly after, I didn’t even know. Savion was smiling, saying he had gone in search of, “wild animals.” I was angry and ashamed at myself for being negligent, thankful that he was unharmed, and distressed that this kept happening. As a parent, you have to be on 24/7, but with the child on the spectrum, that’s magnified. These wandering away behaviors are called elopement.
Savion or Anwar would run into oncoming traffic and not be afraid. Victor and I tried bracelets that, when the boys went beyond a certain perimeter our phone alarms started, but the boys chewed them off. We tried bracelets on their ankles, but they chewed them off as well. Shoes can be slipped off.
After Taj wandered away last May, Victor and I made some changes in and around the house. We had a fence put between the front and back yard. In the past Savion had run to the backyard, climbed over the fence and run down the alley while I was in the front with the other two. We purchased a climbing dome, because Anwar likes going to other people’s yards and climbing trees. We got a large trampoline for the backyard, since sometimes they would run towards the nearest park. Eventually, we will get a swing set, there’s one at my parents’ house, but they’ve outgrown it. We changed the locks, the only way the boys can get out is if we open the door. We wear the house keys on lanyards. Anwar’s arms are long enough to take off the door chain, unbolt the door and open the screen door. Before we changed the locks, Taj and Savion would drag chairs over or stand on the table to remove the door chain. Whenever the back or front door is opened an alarm goes off.
All of these changes have helped to keep them safe from wandering, but they still have the urge to run. Thankfully ,the Junction City Police Department recently started the “Take Me Home” program, used in other communities as well. A person, who may need assistance if alone, is enrolled, their picture taken and caregiver contacts are included in the database. If this person is found by a police officer they can use the “Take Me Home” database. I will sign up for this. If you live in Junction City and want more information, stop by the Police Department. I hope that this service can help other families as well.