“Mrs. Mallard,” said the voice on the other end, ”we just wanted to inform you that Elijah got out of the classroom today. He made several attempts to escape , and he finally succeeded. It took us about 30 minutes, but we finally found him in a yard nearby. The lady who lived there kept him for us until we got there. We just wanted to let you know.” Remember, Elijah is an autistic boy. He is non -verbal…
These are the most terrifying moments.
Elijah has a habit of eloping. For a young couple, eloping is a happy time…something that is done in spontaneity in a time of unabashed love or maybe to spite a parent…who knows. But for a parent with a special needs child, eloping is a word that brings fear and hopelessness. For me in particular, this is doubly so, because he seldom responds to his name (not unlike any other teenager who is preoccupied). He also loves water, and will not hesitate to go towards it when he is compelled, even though he cannot swim.
In a controlled environment, eloping is less likely to occur.
I trust that at his school, Elijah is in a controlled environment. There are more than two pairs of eyes in the room, and normally they are very attentive to him and will place him in time out. But on this day, his supervisors failed him. Not only that, but they failed me by not contacting me in a reasonable time to give me the option to help look for MY child. How is it that he was not given a time out after the first attempt? How is it that he was missing for so long that he was able to escape to a neighbors’ home up the road? But even more frightening, how is it that he ended up in the home of a stranger???
When I asked these questions, I was shocked at the reply…
“This happens from time to time, and the neighbors are familiar with our kids. He’s fine.” This indicates that these instances happen so often that the neighbors in the community are aware of it. The fact that there was a 30 minute time span means that the supervisors were so complacent that they did not notice him missing for at least 2-3 minutes. So many things can happen in a short period of time. Thank GOD it didn’t!
From mother to advocate…
Needless to say, I have not had that issue again. I discussed my concerns at length with the teachers and principle and told them I would not hesitate to take further actions if it happened again. As his mother, I am his strongest advocate and will continue to fight for his safety. Never feel that you are helpless to stand up for the safety of your child. It could mean life or death.
By: Radiah Mallard
Editor’s Note: Check out all the conversation that happened on FB, before this post ever went live! There are a lot of opinions. What are yours?
Editor’s Note: This Article is the first part of a series of three related posts. See also: