Educators and parents go out of their way not only to prevent a child from wandering and going missing, but — one has to be realistic — strategizing about how to teach a child to know what to do in such a situation, such as recognizing who a policeman is (and who isn’t — a very difficult thing to teach). Most autistic children who wander very likely do not think they are lost. According to a Research Report: Elopement and Wandering by the Interactive Autism Network, a third of autistic children who wander or elope are “never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number verbally or by writing/typing.”
Charlie now carries identification in the form of a card with his name, our cell phone numbers and a statement about his autism diagnosis and minimal speech. But we also have to teach him to show his ID when asked. There are tracking devices such as the Care Trak tracking device and we have some friends whose children wear devices provided by Project Lifesaver; if Charlie were to wear one, we would have to teach him to wear it and not try constantly to take it off.
Most of all, I’m more than grateful that Robert was found on Friday night, before Saturday’s storm hit — thank you, thank you to the anonymous rescuer — and hope he can be soon back home, safe and sound.
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