Children with autism rarely have the safety awareness skills they need and are at higher risk of accidental death than typically developing children. Today I’m talking with a mother who lost her child in an effort to help raise autism safety awareness and prevent the same from happening to other children.
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A child with autism who wanders away and is missing seems to be a regular story in the news. Whether there are hours or days of searching, rarely does the media story end well. But there is a lot of wandering and elopement that is never covered by the media, either because the child is found safely or the child tragically gets injured or dies within minutes or hours of eloping. Here’s where autism safety awareness comes in and needs to be discussed.
I have both personal and professional experience with elopement and wandering behavior. When Lucas was young he eloped from our home and darted away in the mall and in other settings several times. In a few instances, we had to notify security and one time my husband had to call the police before Lucas was located safely. Since the age of 11 or 12, Lucas stopped wandering, although even at the age of 22, he is unaware of many safety issues and remains at high risk of accidental injury and death.
Many of my clients have had similar experiences with their own children leaving their homes, wandering away in public, or darting towards streets or water. Kelsey, one of our online course participants, who is a single mom of 2 young boys on the spectrum, needed to use a leash and a harness to take her then 2-year-old out in the community safely before she learned how to gain instructional control in and outside of the home.
The most tragic accident by far happened 3 years ago when one of my former clients, Brayden wandered away and within minutes (before anyone knew he was missing) drowned in a neighbor’s pool when he was 6 years old.
In this video I’m sharing an emotional interview with Brayden’s mom, Melissa. Melissa tells her story about Brayden’s early warning signs of autism, the safety concerns she had from the ages of 2 to 6 and the day she got the call that changed her life.
Melissa is ready to share her story and gives advice on autism safety awareness for children with autism. She hopes her story will help prevent other tragedies from happening.
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