Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Late last Wednesday night... okay, early last Thursday morning... we arrived home after the semi-annual trip to the outlet mall for school clothes and shoes.  

One of the most amazing things to me as a mother of three is the amount of time it takes to settle back into a routine, get unpacked, and back to our normal after a trip.  Even a weekend can take a few days to recover, and a few days?  Well, let's just say the suitcase is still laying open in my room with a smattering of clean clothes in desperate need of hanging or putting away.

For the most part, we're back into the swing of Daddy back to work.  And now that the survival mode has waned a bit, the thing that is stuck in my mind is the wandering.

Yes, we had a great trip to San Antonio.  Maybe the best trip behavior-wise EVER... and most of that was due to our realizing that we couldn't make him hold our hands.  WE, the adults, had to do some of the adapting.  With three of us, or even two and a stroller, one was assigned to keeping Ryan on the sidewalk and from running over people, although he did decided to play football with a poor unsuspecting lady in a shoe store.

I am still so embarrassed with that one.  If that kind, wonderfully patient woman ever reads this, thank you.  I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.

For you football types, you can rest assured that it was a clean hit.  That, and my kid could have a future in football.

But that isn't even the part that keeps me awake at night.  That makes my heart stop when I remember throughout the day.

That would be the wandering.

We almost lost him several times.

By "lost" I mean look down for literally a few seconds, look up, and he's nowhere in sight.

It happened a LOT, but the three times I remember I'll never forget.

The mall was first.  We were at the Disney Store in the Rivercenter Mall, and the mall itself was packed.  Eric picked up a stuffed animal to show me, I told him it was cute, then immediately it was "WHERE'S RYAN?!" 

He was standing outside the door of the store in the hall, looking left and right, probably heading to the elevators he kept wanting to check out.  You know, the ones that lead to the streets of downtown?

The other one was at the Rainforest Cafe on the Riverwalk.  Again, we looked down to say yes or no to a toy for Richie, and looked up and he'd vanished.  Thankfully, we found him in the back of the store, stimming on the elevator.  

This is real.  Wandering and bolting are real.  The fact that Ryan can't tell you his name or who his parents are is real.  He knows a lot of things.  He even knows the phone number of the office where we go at Children's in Dallas to the ophthalmologist.  But ask him what it is?  


Same silence with his name, our names, where he lives.  I have no doubt that, if he decided to do so, he could draw every street sign that he'd need to get back home between here and there.  But to share that information on demand?  We're not there yet. 

This is why we insist on someone to accompany him... hold his hand... who KNOWS him, not just his name... if he's going on a school trip anywhere.  And just like they say, he loves water but does not know how to swim.

"In 2012,the National Autism Association found that from 2009 to 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism subsequent to wandering, and that 23% of total wandering-related deaths occurred while the child was in the care of someone other than a parent." ~AAWARE

So what do we do?  What is the answer?  Shut the doors and windows and stay inside?  We already have a security system to make sure if he opens a door we'll know it.  

Tomorrow, we'll look at some options, plans, and other stuff we do as a family to keep Ryan safe.  We'll also take a hard look at where we can improve. 

For now, thanks be to God that Ryan is safe.  That we found him every time before someone or something else took him. 

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