Recently my worst nightmare happened for a second time when my 13-year-old autistic son vanished while I was bringing groceries into the house. One minute he is shooting baskets, and the next he is nowhere in sight.
If you are wondering how this could happen again in such a short time, then you've never experienced autism first-hand.
As a parent, I think one of the most heartbreaking things I've had to experience so far is to see my child watching his peers go off by themselves or in groups on their bikes or their ATVs. I can almost remember the exact second he realized he was not like the other kids. That look of sadness and confusion.
He is now 14 and my husband and I are his whole life and he is ours. He is with us 24/7. He has no friends to do things with. Only us.
Options for autistic children have come a long way. However, most of them are for the very young. My question is, what happens when they hit puberty?
When Christian went into the woods, he wasn't angry about anything or running away from home. That certainly is not him. He was simply curious about what's out in the world beyond the confines of home without Mom and Dad right behind him.
He basically has no independence and is beginning to realize that is not normal.
That being said, thank God that I live in a community that is so understanding and truly goes beyond the call of duty to help each other out. The police, and the fire and rescue teams were there in full force the entire time. They were not only from my town of Vienna, but also from neighboring towns like Hubbard and Brookfield as well as the men from the Air Force base.
What I didn't realize is that most of these people are volunteers and do this out of the goodness of their hearts. That truly is amazing to me.
It was also fortunate that Channel 21 put his picture and information out to the surrounding areas because that is how he was finally found. A gentleman was watching the news and saw this was happening near his home and joined the search, eventually finding Christian in a swamp behind his house in the woods.
Christian was extremely cut up by the foliage and covered in bug bites, but he was safe.
I am eternally grateful to all who helped in Christian's safe return, but realize this cannot continue to happen and am going to get a tracking device for him in hopes of resolving this problem. I wish there were another option, but unfortunately there is not.
One thing I do know for sure is that Christian has more than one Guardian Angel looking after him, because this event could certainly have had a different outcome, and I thank God it turned out the way it did.