"Why was this child left without supervision?"
"Who would take their eyes off of their child if their child had autism?"
"Where was the mother when this happened?"
Last week the world lost a beautiful soul, Mikaela Lynch. A nine-year-old who left her yard to go find some water.
Yesterday we lost an 8 year-old nonverbal child with autism in Florida.
And following each of these reports is the finger-pointing.
Just what parents need with tragedy like this.
I consider myself a good Mom. I actually think I'm pretty great at what I do. I know my son is a wanderer and has no concept of danger. I've had window guards installed in windows at my home, I've put stop signs at the doors, I have bought temporary tattoos that have my contact info on them to put on him when we go to busy events. I have worked relentlessly to teach him to swim since like many others on the spectrum he is a magnet to water. I have drilled hours and hours of road safety- looking both ways, holding hands, not going past specific points in yards, etc., etc.
But my child has escaped.
A couple times.
Once at a campground I lost him. Thank god, I found him. He had decided to go to the bathroom and because he doesn't always have the necessary tools to communicate that to me he just left when my back was turned.
Once in a parking lot near a beach he took off to run to the water. He was actually hit by a car backing out. It was just a tap, not even enough to knock him over. Thank the universe! But it was enough to make me keep a death grip on him for the rest of the day. My heart was beating through my shirt for the next 24 hours.
Every once in a while, while we are all running around trying to get ready for school and work I'll notice that the front door is open. And there is Brian standing in the middle of the road flapping his hands staring up at the airplanes in the sky.
I know how lucky I am that my child has been safe and sound each time.
Life with a child on the spectrum is 24/7. It doesn't stop. We can do ABA over and over and over again to teach them safety but it doesn't guarantee anything. Life is still going on around us all the time. We can't be every where at once. We have other children, other requirements expected of us. Brian is my priority by all means, but I'm not Wonder Woman.
So when a tragedy hits a family like Owen or Mikaela we need to send out love and support. Enough with the judgment and finger-pointing. Glass houses people. Glass houses.
For more information on the dangers of wandering and autism visit: http://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/autism-safety-facts/
To get yourself a FREE safety kit for your child on the spectrum (pay it forward if you can) visit: http://nationalautismassociation.org/big-red-safety-box/
And lastly contact your local police department and see if they have a program in place for identifying children on the spectrum. Some will keep reports with pictures on our children with where they may go if they wandered, what their behaviors are, etc.