Most hear the word elope and think of a couple who have gotten married without a huge ceremony.But to families with children on the autism spectrum, it means so much more.
It means Fear.
I have heard experiences from friends and I could never fully imagine what I would feel if it was my child. I could sympathize and it’s terrifying but until you go through it, you never truly understand.I now have experienced this.
The fear of hearing my back door opening out of the blue.The fear of wondering how far has my child wondered now that he can open the door.The fear of knowing what once worked to keep my child safe doesn’t anymore.
My heart raced as I heard the creaking of the door opening. Did I hear what I think I just heard?I leap up to go see and sure enough my son has opened the door. Something he’s never tried to do before.
He’s always just gone to look out the window as he watches cars drive by as the wheels spin round and round.
I rush to grab him before he tries to run out the door. As I pick him up I close the door and I lock it this time.
I breathe a sigh of relief and think “The door is locked now he can’t unlock the door, I can breathe again.” I was wrong. He figured out how to unlock it.
We had already installed alarms on the doors and are now actively using them.
At first this was only happening when therapy would arrive.My mind started pondering why?Is it his therapist? No, he continues to cuddle and play with her.Is it because his routine has been off? Missing school and throwing his everyday off, not sure.Is it because he is looking for his father? Maybe, that is the door he comes home through. But then he does it even when his father is home.
Can I ask my child why? No, there is a communication barrier and he cannot tell or show us why he is doing this.
No parent should have to fear their child eloping 24/7.
I used to not have this fear, I can’t say that anymore.