From a Mom and Blogger of a Severely Autistic 18 year old. www.autisminsocal.com
Anyone that’s been following our story knows that our Biggest Challenge so far has been ELOPING! It's been going on since he could walk and now at almost 18 years old, he's an Absolute Escape Artist!
While I hate being the Debbie Downer focusing on the difficult parts of Autism like eloping, believe it or not there ARE positives! The main one being the fact that the Entire Police Department in our city not only knows him on a first name basis but sincerely care and keeps an eye out for him
Over the years I have literally tried everything…every suggestion anyone gave me, but NOTHING worked. Here is where we were at just a short two months ago:
· Every tool I own locked in a Steel Toolbox, every butter knife (makeshift screwdriver), every pair of Scissors (also a makeshift screwdriver;) hidden.
· I spend my days looking for "KEYS" as I’m constantly having to change my hiding spots and any "free Time" is spent researching various GPS systems, home security Cameras and Alarms.
· Nights are spent drilling windows and doors shut from the outside and doing my, “Before Bed Perimeter Check" of the house. (lol, I wish I was kidding;) before finally sleeping with one eye open, usually in the living room.
· Why the living room you ask? Well, even with all this Security, Drilled Shut windows and doors, it’s NO MATCH to his sheer Genius and Skills this guy has. (He has to pass the living room to leave so I have a good chance of stopping him before he does…one eye open remember? LOL!)
We even went through a super cute, sweet phase where every night he would come to my bedroom, gives me a hug, softly sings "..go to sleep...." and tuck me in to my bed with a kiss on my forehead. LOL! I quickly learned that this was his way of getting me to sleep faster so he could forge ahead with his escape plan!
One night I found myself on Twitter and decided to post a question to the #Actually Autistic Community to see if they had any advice on how to handle all of this? Most of the responses were great if he were higher functioning, but as I responded explaining that the advice they were giving me wasn’t going to work, I was met with some harsh replies along the lines of, “His aggression is his way of communicating with you!”
But here’s what happened…I didn’t get angry I just logged off and for the rest of the night I thought about what they said. It really started to sink in! He’s 18 years old after all, he’s almost a man and honestly, had he not “escaped” and made it so far, so many times, taking busses and even trains by himself, to EXACTLY where he wanted to go, places that I wouldn’t even know how to get to without a car…I would have NEVER BELIEVED that he would have been capable of doing it!
I decided to take the advice I had been given and give it a go...and this is where by story gets GOOD!
I decided to leave all doors unlocked from the outside, I showed him every unlocked door and explained that he was FREE to go walking whenever he wanted, as long as he told me first. (Of course I left his GPS in place;)
That was over a MONTH AGO and since then he hasn’t even Tried to leave the house!!!
He now comes to me and lets me know that he’s going for a walk and without hesitation I make sure he has everything he needs, give him a hug, tell him to be safe and to have a good time! (I follow his walk via GPS) ❤️
I NEVER WOULD HAVE BELIEVED IT TILL I SAW IT! Communication comes in many forms! We just have to learn to listen hard enough to understand!