Monday, December 06, 2010

"Robbie's Home!" Missing Teenager With Low Functioning Autism Found Safe in Toronto

Robert Capovilla, right, is reunited with his family Sunday night, a day after the autistic teenager went missing, prompting a huge police search. Aunt Margaret Saracino and father Adriano Capovilla reach for Robert on his return home.

The Toronto Star reports an autism story of danger and family fear that ends on a happy note with the safe return of  Robert Capovilla:

"The shy 16-year-old, diagnosed with autism and whose mental capacity is more like that of a child of 8 or 9, had been missing for more than 24 hours. In the biting cold.

Robert wandered away from his Mississauga home around 2 p.m. Saturday — a highly uncharacteristic move, says his mother, Maria. He had last been spotted at a McDonald's on Dundas St. W."

The Star reports that a large scale effort including public notices and searches by friends, family and police had been under way. The Toronto teen had left his Mississauga home and had made it all the way to downtown Toronto before being spotted by a Toronto Transit employee.  

Many parents with low functioning or severely autistic children have experienced the fear of their child going missing, including me.  As we  know from the sad story of James Delorey who was lost in a Nova Scotia snow storm and didn't recover from the effects it does not always end well.  In Toronto today Robbie is home, he is safe and healthy.  His family, as seen in the Toronto Star photo above, is very happy.  Many parents, particularly many parents of autistic children who have lived through a similar experience, will share their joy.

1 comment:

Barry Hudson said...

Hi Harold,

The police forces here in the GTA often get bad press reviews but I know that in cases like this they mobilize like no ones business (and work in partnership with all other municipal "on the street" staff, in this example the TTC was notified thus being seen by a TTC employee). A friend of ours has a teenage daughter (very severely afflicted, entirely nonverbal) who left home once (their home is very safe, she went out a window) and the Peel Region Police were at her home in under a minute, had a perimeter set up in under five, and began searching in under thirty minutes. She was found two hours later by an off duty officer. Not all these stories have happy endings but I know the constabulary takes these events VERY seriously.