Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Autism's Wandering Children

A recent occurrence in Indiana is another reminder of one of the realities of raising autistic children. In some cases, a parent has to be on 24/7 alert to make sure that the child, even when he or she becomes an adult, does not wander away into danger. I have posted on this blog several times about news such as that of an adult, severely autistic man, Keith Kennedy, who wandered away from camp into the woods for a week or the child who wandered off into traffic never to return.

I have also talked here of my own experience several years ago when Conor wandered away from the house while I was occupied on a business call. He wandered across a busy parking lot and main street where he was picked up by a good samaritan and taken to a nearby convenience store where I was able to recover him after calling 911.

In the recent Indiana case an exhausted mother, fatigued in part by allergy medications, sat down on a couch and fell asleep. When she awoke an hour later the front door of her apartment was open and her child was gone. The child was found wandering and police were called who in turn called child protection. While the police waited for Child Protection Services to arrive other police officers found the mother driving around looking for her child.

Local CPS is continuing to evaluate the case in Indiana but this is one autism parent, in another part of the world, who understands the challenges faced by that Indiana mom. The reality is that some autistic children require constant supervision and there are times when life, a phone call, fatigue, an emergency, or a dozen other reasons, does not always cooperate.

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