I have to say something about this.
I wish there was no need.
I wish this had never happened.
The day before our family started training for our Paws With a Cause dog, a boy with autism died. His family was having a get together and he wasn’t as supervised as he needed to be. He wandered FIVE MILES, onto the US 60 in Mesa, AZ, and was tragically hit by a truck and killed. His family had only just realized he was gone. It could have been neglect. It could have been any of us with a child on the spectrum, and if we tell ourselves it couldn’t, we are LYING to ourselves
This could happen to us if we are as vigilant as we know how to be. This is an unbelievable tragedy and it broke my heart to hear the story. It broke my heart more to read it.
What can we do for our kids? How are we supposed to prevent this sort of tragedy? We can have locks on our doors to keep them inside, but are we really going to lock our children up all the time? Otis is going to help us keep Jake under control in public places, it’s one of the things he’s trained to do and quite handy in parking lots. But at home? At a family gathering? All we can do is keep constant watch on him. And sometimes that is not an option. We have a reasonably sized single family home, although I would sell a kidney for a second bathroom, and our holidays are easy to keep in the house. I wouldn’t think twice about letting Gray keep an eye on Jake in our backyard, which is a long acre. But we don’t have a fence. And there is something of a highway a lot closer than five miles away.
Reading this story woke me up. This could happen to us. I just don’t know how I feel about that. Jake doesn’t show a tendency to wander far from home . . . Yet. I know as well as anyone that autism one day can turn on a dime and look totally different the next day. Last year we did catch his crazy butt way back on our property. I flipped out on the kids. We were on lockdown. Every so often we’d do a “Jake Check” and find him.
He comes to kissy noises now . . .
Like a dog . . .
I’m not ashamed to say this. At least he comes. And he hasn’t been wandering since those couple times where he was just in the back. But that doesn’t guarantee that he won’t wander again. Nor does it mean that he won’t go further next time.
I am calling for advice from other parents who’ve dealt with this. What do you do? What locks for sliding doors and screen doors and all kinds of doors. Do you have some sort of GPS tracker? I want to know about it. Is there a renegade vet who will microchip your kid like we microchip our pets? Message me his info. I don’t want to imagine the pain and guilt and grief this baby’s family has been going through. I’m praying for Au-Juna Banks-Taylor and his family. His death has woken me up to our somewhat lax security around here. I don’t want to make our home into a prison, but what else are we to do? What do other people do?