Moms Give Us an Inside Look at Autism and Elopement
Ian, safe at home.
The wandering started when Ian was three years old. He slipped out of the house in the middle of the night, in 40 degree weather, in the rain.
“Luckily, we woke up because the dog started whining. We found him, naked, on the swing set,” said Marj Hatzell, Ian’s mom. Ian, who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and is non-verbal, is now a well-known escape artist in his neighborhood.
When you hear the word elopement, you probably think of weddings in Vegas. But to parents of autistic kids, it means something entirely different: escaping, wandering, running away. Although no formal data exists, a 2007 informal online survey showed that 92 percent of parents of autistic children said their child had a tendency to wander. But “tendency to wander” does not describe the experience of a number of parents whose kids frequently escape from home or school.
Despite living in homes likened to Fort Knox, replete with alarms, gates, multiple keyed locks and deadbolts, these kids escape. And disappear. There are parents who live with terror, every day, that in the time it takes to go to the bathroom, their child will go missing. This stress takes immense toll on parents.
“It is literally the most stressful thing I’ve ever endured in my life,” said Ms. Hatzell.
Please read the rest of Marj's story, and the amazing technology that's bringing her some peace of mind, at Strollerderby.