Last week I had an idea.
I was thinking about Maggie eloping and the possibility of her getting out again.
I want to believe that it can't happen.
But experience has taught me that we have an extremely intelligent and determined little girl and I know that in this case I can really never say never, even though I desperately want to, and it's basically something I work towards every day.
And I kept thinking about that car that I saw on the video that drove past her between the time she left the house and when I left the house.
You see, every time I've met anyone who lives in our neighborhood I've introduced myself and usually within two minutes I bring up the fact that we have a daughter and I explain eloping and how she's pretty determined to elope and I show them a picture and ask them to please, if they ever see her out to try to stop her and if they can't to call the police and come get us as soon as possible, stressing how dangerous the situation is.
But I know that for some of the people around here now, that conversation, and that glance at that photo on my phone, was now six or twelve months ago, or maybe even two years ago.
And Maggie doesn't go to school with the other kids in our neighborhood and she doesn't play out on the front lawn, because it isn't fenced and she would run away if she was out there, so our neighbors really don't see that much of her.
If they saw her walking down the side of the road they might not be sure that it was her.
And while there are parts of the US where you sometimes see people calling the police on their neighbors for kids being out on their own in the media, I pretty regularly see kids Maggie's age out, walking around without adults, so it wouldn't be that unusual a sight (aside from the fact that she decided to run down the middle of a 55 mph zone).
So I decided to do something that I hoped would help put her face into our neighbors minds a little more clearly, just in case she does get out. I wanted the wording to be clear and to catch people's attention.
I know that some people will probably read it and make judgements, the way people do in comment boxes on the internet about children who elope every single summer, because this doesn't make clear all that we've done before being driven to this, to keep her safe.
Paul went door to door to hand them out, and offer explanations this weekend, but a lot of our neighbors who were obviously home didn't come to the door, so he left those in mailboxes.
But I'm hoping that if she does get out again, and if one of our neighbors sees her, that maybe this time, they'll call the police.
We also went by the police station and gave four of these to the police officers and talked with them again, and they took some to take down to the fire station as well.
Here's the finished product, which I made on PicMonkey and had printed on 4x6's at Target (I'll put the script below for anyone who wants to borrow it to make their own):
Hi my name is ___________ and I have autism and I don't have very many words. Sometimes I run away. If you see me out without my mom or dad or grandparents, please don't hesitate to stop me and if you can't call 911 right away. That call could save my life. And then please call my mom at xxx-xxx-xxxx. My dad's number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thank you!