Eloping is an all too common problem among children with autism, so much so that the phenomenon has been on the radar of the CDC for years. It’s described as the urge to leave protected and safe surroundings, such as a home or school, without notifying anyone. It’s also known as wandering, running or bolting.
The two primary reasons that a child may leave their surroundings is to leave a bad situation or to pursue something they want.
If you’ve discovered your child is a runner, you may already be aware of the measure you need to take. If you’re just beginning your autism journey, the idea of your child walking out the door in the middle of the night and vanishing may scare you to death, and you’re not alone.
We’re speaking with Tracey McEntyre today, and she knows firsthand the fear that surrounds elopement. She’s a mother, advocate, friend, STEM educator and business owner. Her most important role is being a mother to her 13-year old son Roman. When her son was diagnosed with autism, they began a new journey of advocacy for Roman, advocating for other families, and reinventing how our children learn.
The CDC offers some helpful tips that can help you prepare in advance in the event that your child bolts:
Set up an emergency response plan
Keep a current photo of your child
Have your child wear an ID bracelet
Let anyone who may have regular contact with your child know they may wander
Meet your neighbors and inform them of your situation
Immediately call first responders
Teach your child safety commands such as “stop”
Teach your child to swim
Teach them how to cross a street
Meet with any healthcare providers who understand your child’s unique situation and ask for their expert advice
There isn’t any way to ensure 100% that your child is safe in this world. This just isn’t something that is possible for any parent, but with establishing proper safety measures, it will help to alleviate some of the fears that come with the possibility of facing this situation.
For more information you can visit the CDC and Autism Society websites, and of course, as always, please feel free to reach out to My Autism Tribe. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next week.