I haven't wrote in a very long time, I am sitting here trying compile my thoughts, please bare with me.
As a little background for anyone new reading this, Lukas is 5, on the spectrum and is nonverbal. He has no sense of danger, and often finds mischief. (very much a small nutshell version)
Everyone has fears. Some people learn to conquer theirs, others let it define their lives. To outside people, fears can seem small and insignificant but to you, it is never small.
I have multiple fears, some more typical than the rest....spiders, bees, pitch black.
But what about those bigger fears, the not so typical ones, the ones we try to hide? What happens when those become true?
I cannot truly put into word how it feels when your worst fears come true; but for the sake of getting this important message out there, I will do my best.
Almost every day there is a new story on my Facebook news feed of another Autistic child gone missing. People on the outside are often quick to judge the parents or caregivers. I've heard all types of bashing; if you were paying attention that wouldn't have happened, do you even care for your child, why would you let this happen? The list goes on.
But yet those same people, and I have heard this personally more times than I can count...
Let him be, don't hover, let him run, let him be a kid, let him explore.
No....I cannot do these things...and here is why
To us on the corner of Autism Ave, we know that sometimes our kids...they just have this will and you know the saying...when there is a will, there is a way. Believe me when I say, it can happen extremely fast! Thankfully my story has a happy ending but so many others do not. Here is the story of how my worst fear came true, how I lost my son for almost an hour...
Another typical day of trying to wrangle him to school. Him not wanting to put on clothes, throwing a fit at the sight of his book bag, carrying his almost 60 lbs butt out the door.
It has finally been warming up, so we decided to walk/run up and down the sidewalk while we wait for the bus (waiting and patience isn't exactly his gig). We were having a blast, it was a little windy and he loves to feel the wind blow in his hair. He ran back towards the house, I was behind him by maybe 15-20 seconds if that. Thinking, where could he possibly go? He often stops around the corner and crouches down and giggles when I come around and jump out.
What happens when you turn that corner and there is no boy? You look at the porch and there is no boy? You look at the other side of the house and there is no boy?
True panic sets in. Your heart immediately goes into your throat and it feels like it is beating harder and faster than a normal heart could bare.
A million things start to go through your mind at once. Where could he have gone? Was the front door open? The back gate to the neighbors is open, did he run back there?
You start to scream his name in hopes of him popping out and finding you. You start to run and look and get more worked up as each second passes that he isn't there. You start to realize that he can't talk and won't say "over here momma, gotcha!"
As you are running and yelling and looking, more thoughts run through your head. Was he taken? Did I look to fast here? Should I try to look into the house? If I look into the house and he is outside, will he get farther away? Where do I go? What do I do? You scream...and run...and look more.
After what felt like a lifetime (maybe 5 minutes) I call the police. During this time the school secretary who lives two houses down and was leaving to go back to school from her lunch is now helping look for him. The police keep me on the phone, beg me not to hang up as I am losing my mind, my ability to think clearly. I get impatient, I want to run and scream and not talk on the phone. I search places over and over again. I scream his name a thousand times.
Police and fire rescue show up in about 5-10 minutes (I have no grasp on the time). I'm calling my mom and his dad to let them know. I am getting asked question after question when all I want to do is run and find him.
They ask me what he is wearing, what he looks like, if he has any hiding places he likes to go.
I tell them he likes to hide under things and look for water.
The thought of water almost brings me to my knees. What if he finds a pool or water? What if he drowns? No....no I can't think about that.
What if he makes it to the busy road? No surely someone will see him by then right? He can't make it there! He won't!
Your heart feels like it is going to literally burst out of your chest. There is so much anguish and anxiety, you don't even know how you are still upright. You just keep thinking, you have to find him...now!
More people start showing up, people with dogs, people from the neighborhood, more police. I keep running through all the back yards. It feels like hours instead of minutes have passed. Multiple cops search my home, with me and without.
I start going thru the neighbors back yard again and there is a gentleman with a dog. Whether it was god or mothers intuition, I ask him to see if the sliding glass door is unlocked (he is obsessed with ours). My neighbors aren't home so he isn't sure if he should. I take off up the street. More screaming and looking. Again it feels like forever, the anguish is starting to take full control and I finally just drop to my knees. I just sit and pull my hair and scream his name over and over and over again. I see a blue truck coming down the road, he stops and says are you mom? Oh God! This could either be very good or the worst news of my life. I say yes...in movies there dramatize things...makes things look slower than normal....but it does happen. Its like everything stopped for a few moments while I waited to hear what this man had to say...tick tock tick tock.
"They've found him! Get in and I can take you to him."
They found him? Really? Is he ok? Where was he? How far did he get? Oh my God he is alive! I will see my boy again!
We pull into my drive way but there is no Lukas. Where is he?! You said they found him! Where is he?!
They will bring him to you any moment.
Why can't I just go to him? Where is he?
Then he rounds the corner with officers and the man with the dog (I think). I run...I hug...I cry...
They try to tell me to not upset him, to not scare him....
My first reaction was the smack the living shit out of the however said that but I know otherwise. They were right. He was safe and that's all that matter. I didn't need to traumatize him just because he eloped and traumatized me.
They said he went through the neighbors sliding glass door and was found playing with the grandkids toys in the living room. He was content and had a smile on his face.
He had never been to our neighbors house before. He had never even been in their back yard. But this day, when the neighbors gate had been slightly opened, and the back door unlocked...I lost my son within 20 ish seconds for almost an hour.
I hugged him and smiled and made him look me in the face and told him I loved him. I called him a little shit for scaring mommy like that. I tried to explain why this wasn't good behavior.
For hours I did nothing but cry and shake. There was too much adrenaline and anxiety and all kind of emotions I have never experienced inside me. I had to remind myself over and over that he was safe and unharmed. It was still so hard not to think of what could have been. I was the lucky mom who got her child back. So many others didn't get this happy news.
Elopement is a very real risk. It is truly terrifying. No one person should ever have to experience it.
He now has a GPS, we bought window and door alarms. There are no more gaps while playing and waiting for the bus.
Don't ever let other peoples judgments get you down. You do what is right by your child. You be the best over protective momma or papa bear there is. All it takes are seconds, and your life will be forever changed.