Every mother’s greatest fear: You look up and your child is gone! Perhaps your child decided to go sit down, or he may be deliberately running off, or he is simply wandering. In any case, you are in a panic until you find your child.
I have personally experienced all of the above. A few years ago on a football weekend, Ryan and I were at the Notre Dame bookstore. When I looked up from browsing, he was gone. If you’ve ever been at the store, you know that there is a huge crowd, multiple floors and a sea of children and adults, all with one intent – to purchase Notre Dame merchandise. After scanning the crowd and not seeing him, I quickly circled the floor. He was still not in sight. At that point, I went to security and got their help. Within five very long minutes, we found him sitting in a chair in a corner of the store. When asked why he didn’t stay with me, he simply said that he was tired and wanted to sit down.
I know that personal safety is a concern for most families. I have found it best to prepare, should an emergency occur. I have a few suggestions that have helped me over the years:
- Carry an identification card with your child’s picture on it. This would include a physical description including height, weight, hair and eye color and any identifying marks.
- You may want your child to always carry personal identification as well. This should include names, phone numbers and addresses of parents or emergency contact persons. If your child is non-verbal, be sure to note that on the identification card as well.
- Consider speaking with a home security business. They might be best equipped to address your security issues. I have bell system on each door that goes off whenever anyone exits, so if I am in a different room, I will quickly know if Ryan has gone out the door.
- Consider placing an autism icon on your car and home windows. First response professionals are trained to look for these icons.
- Some 911 centers maintain information in their database for children and adults with autism, Alzheimer’s and other medically fragile conditions. The 911 communicators can alert the first responders before they arrive with the key information that is provided. Like many other areas, Erie County maintains a special needs directory. Make safety a part of your child’s daily routine. Practice, practice, practice!
I’d like to hear any of your experiences and/or suggestions!