Monday, March 19, 2018

Autism, Wandering, and Eloping, and my Most Terrifying Moment as a Mom

I thought about saving this for April.

Okay, let's be honest.

I planned on saving this for April.

But then I finished it.  And the next day I saw a news story, the first one (that I saw this year).

The first heartbreaking agonizing story of a child with autism wandering or eloping and not being found alive.  It happens every year.  Every summer there is a stream of them if you pay attention.  Sometimes weekly.  Sometimes a bit more time goes by.  Sometimes though its less and I find my heart in my throat, trying not to pay attention but also unable to look away, praying so hard for each child as the autism community prays and often grieves.

And it's only March.

Or maybe the years blend together now and there really is no, eloping season because there's no time that's really safe, just times when it happens less.

If you've been around long you know this story, but this will be the first time anyone outside our family has heard me tell it.

I got through it with, somewhat minimal tears.

Okay, that's not totally true.  There are tears.  Because it's been almost three years, but it's not something I will easily forget:


  1. There is no greater terror than a missing child. No shame in tears. No matter how careful we are... I remember your post on that event. I am SO glad she was OK. When we were small, I loved playing mermaid, and we would wear flippers in the pool and "swim like mermaids" which included breast-stroke, and then swimming under the water with our arms relaxed except for turning, and moving our feet together to propel ourselves as if we had a tail... perhaps she just needs lessons on how to be a mermaid? I know learning the regular strokes was not easy for me. But breast stroke, and learning to turn over on the surface to breast facing up (rolling rather than trying to breath between strokes), and lots of to the bottom and back to the surface activities, which we did in the shallow end, going after ever smaller objects. Hours of pretending we were mermaids. Flippers make it so you can generate enough power with your feet together to move. Used to swim along the bottom, only coming up for air and going right back down after all, mermaids go up and down. Just remembering. Respect to you for how diligent and kind you are-- you do very well.

  2. My autistic daughter also scared me to tears when she was about the same age - I can understand. They disappear so fast!


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