Below are stories about eloping and fear of your child eloping. These can be hard for those who have experienced more traumatic events where a child has eloped from safety and been hurt. Please proceed with caution
As our first blog post, I would like to share personal stories related to the reason our organization began. We as parents of children with Autism and SPD have known for a while that our children are more prone to running into unsafe circumstances. While to this day, society and the media will be quick to blame us for our lack of supervision or security or knowledge, we must remember that they cannot know unless they have experienced it, or have been educated about it. So without any more introduction, here are mine and my son’s experiences with eloping.
For my son, it started out with dropping to the ground. He would get tired of walking through the store, throw his body on the ground, giggle, and try to get up and run. Thankfully this was when he was still a toddler, so it was easy to catch him. But as most of us know, when this becomes a pattern, we experience this foreboding feeling about what will happen as they get older, bigger, and faster.
Eventually when my son could open doors, he learned that he can sneak away where he wants to go. Typically, this meant he would go to the car and wait, because he no longer wanted to be in that location. Once, he snuck past an entire kitchen full of adults to go upstairs and hide in his room (Christmas Eve at my parents).
The first instances of running away and making it a long distance were typically at stores. This eventually led to him riding in the cart up until his legs would no longer allow him to. But when he first ran outside, that was one of the most terrifying times for me, second to his accident. I was a month and a half recovered from a partial ACL tear in my right knee. My parents were dropping us off at their house so I could pack his food for a rehearsal dinner that night. My son had been under the weather, but other than that he was acting fairly normal. We had reached a point where he would calmly climb out of the car, wait for me to grab his backpack from the backseat, and then hold my hand and walk with me where we needed to go. This time however, when I went to reach for his backpack, he took off in the opposite direction. Me still being in a knee brace, I took off after him but couldn’t hope to reach him in time. My mother drove the car after him, and after the third stop was finally able to catch him before he darted around the front of the car. He managed to make it three blocks down the road before that.
I will not go into detail for this blog post about my son’s accident. That will take up an entire post in the future. But I will leave you here with hope. There are so many ways we can work to avoid these events from happening. And we are here to help with that. Along with this post are pictures of tools and equipment that can be used to prevent these scares from happening. While we are still new and gaining funding, we want to make sure everyone has access to the information about these items and their existence so that they can keep their children safe. I know these experiences are scary. But providing a community that understands and can work with you to solve these safety concerns is one of the most helpful things we can all do for each other. I hope this post, and the many stories to come, helps spread awareness, improves interactions, and increases safety for our amazing children.
Until next time, stay strong and remember to love yourself too!