Last night my boyfriend was out with some friends at a McDonalds and recognized one of Bryce’s friends from school who has autism that was behind the counter with some staff members and police officers. He called me and let me know that Bryce’s friend was there by himself. He had wandered.
I woke up Bryce and drove down and arrived to find six police cars in the parking lot. As I was walking into the restaurant I overheard two girls who were coming out mentioning that their was a little boy with the police. My heart just sank. None of this felt real. You read about this kind of stuff all the time and never think of it hitting home.
I spoke with a cashier attendant at the counter and asked if they had a little boy there and told them that I may know him and if I could help in any way. They told me the police were with him in the back and I asked to see him to confirm if it was Bryce’s friend. I walked into the back. It was him.
He was sitting at a table drawing on a notepad that a police officer gave him who was trying to get information from him but he wasn’t very responsive and didn’t give his name. I was able to provide the police with his first name and the school that he went to and informed them that he had autism. Unfortunately I didn’t know his last name or any contact information so I called my sons SEA who worked with him occausionally to see if she had any information that could help. While I was on the phone with her, the police used the information I provided and contacted the school’s principal who was able to provide the address and phone numbers for his family. We stayed with him until his parents arrived and within the hour of us arriving he was reunited with his family. I gave his mom a hug and she started to cry. We said our goodbye’s and headed home.
The next day the boys mom called me thanking me. I couldn’t take all the credit and told her what had happened. How my boyfriend just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I like to think that he is a hero as he had only met Bryce’s friend once and was able to recognize him and call me. Prior to me showing up, the police had no leads or any information, not even his name.
I don’t even want to think how long it could of taken the police to find out who he was, or being that it was the middle of the night, how long until his parents would have noticed he was gone. She told me that this had never happened before and that scared me. It really can happen to anyone.
When I arrived, one of the first questions I asked the police officers was if he had any type of information on him like a name written on his clothing tag or an identification card in his coat pocket. They said that was the first thing they checked when they realized he wasn’t able to communicate. I thought about it after thinking that it may be dangerous having your child’s name or contact information on them just incase that got into the wrong hands, but after doing some research, it seems pretty common, especially for children with a history of wandering. It’s definitely something I am considering to ensure my little guys safety.
If you’d like to learn more about wandering prevention, precautions, child safety products, and resources please visit AWAARE Collaboration (Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education). AWAARE is a working group of six national non-profit autism organizations whose mission is to prevent autism-related wandering incidents and deaths.
Thanks for reading,