This is a post by Tessie Hooker, the grandmother of a six-year-old boy with autism.
My 6-year-old grandson has to be watched constantly. He has autism and can only say a few words and most of that is repeating words you say. We keep a chain on the front and back door to keep him safe.
One evening, not long ago, we had a visitor that did not chain the front door. Unaware of this, I was in a back room for about five minutes. I had left him at the table eating spaghetti O’s. When I came out, the front door was wide open. My heart racing and panic stricken, I raced to look for my grandson. I was screaming with tears flowing down my face. He was nowhere to be found. I fell to my knees and prayed, please God help us find him. Before I could get back in the house to call 911, I saw a police car at the intersection. I flagged him down, “I can’t find my grandson!” The words were choking I was so upset. “We just had a call from someone that found him, is he around six?” the policeman asked. As I followed the policeman’s car about a quarter mile across the road and down another road, my thoughts were racing. “Is he okay? He must be scared to death! Oh my poor innocent child, you don’t know the dangers!” There he sat, on the hood of the car smiling, laughing and kicking his feet, not a worry in the world.
It was just starting to get dark. He had been headed down the road with woods at the end – condensed, thick woods. The officer told me a woman had driven by and noticed he had a flexible straw in his hand weaving it in and out of his fingers as he often does. It was a behavior she had seen many times before. Her own son, now around 25 years old, has autism. Concerned for my grandson, she followed him thinking he may return home, until he started into the woods. If he went into the woods in the dark night, we would not have found him. She then rescued him and called the police. She told me she doesn’t live around here but had decided to visit a friend close by. She said “I want you to meet my son.” He smiled and shook my hand. I cried.
Most anyone else would have thought it to be normal for him to be playing in the neighborhood. An angel was watching over him that day. Thank you again to this stranger and God Bless You!
Autism Speaks is committed to helping prevent wandering incidents and tragedies in the autism community. For wandering resources, click here!