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    Gena's Avatar
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    Default Update 2 in Post 19: Wandering/Elopement

    Has anyone had to head with wandering/elopement with their child with ASD or other special needs?

    DS has always been a runner. In the past it's been more of a problem when we are out in the community: running away from us at the mall, the zoo, etc. Until recently, he did well staying in more structured environments, like home at school.

    Lately, DS has had a surge of independence. Overall, this is a good thing, but with it has come 2 difficult issues:defiance (or non-complaince, as the autism professionals perfer to call it) and wanderlust (aka elopement).

    We have had a couple of incidents of DS leaving the house without us knowing about it. Both times were frightening, but he didn't go far. Yesterday DS managed to get out of the fenced and gated playground at his after-school care program. He only got a few feet before a staff member caught him, but if he had been quicker he probably could have gotten farther away.

    If your child has a tendency to wander (run away/elope), especially at a school or daycare setting, what steps have you and the staff taken to prevent this from happening?
    Last edited by Gena; 05-20-2011 at 12:00 PM.
    Gena

    DS, age 11 and always amazing

    “Autistics are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." - Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong

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    Gena,
    I don't have any BTDT experience and this may not be appropriate for your interests or your son's needs right now but it made me think of Project Lifesaver. It started in my area a couple of years ago and I know some parents who have been very happy with it.
    http://mentalhealth.westchestergov.c...98&Itemid=3470
    DD '06
    DD '14

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    elliput's Avatar
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    This is one of my biggest fears. I don't have any advice or resources to suggest.

    Just recently, DD has been talking about going to find her grandparents (this stemmed from a Valentine's card they send), and one evening even put her coat on, had a shoulder bag into which she had placed her card, and was headed for the door saying she was going to look for the grandparents. I told her she couldn't go looking for them alone and several times since then have had to remind her she is not allowed to go out the front door by herself. Luckily, she can't get the gate from the backyard unlatched and hasn't figured out that she is most likely capable of climbing the short picket fence, but I know that won't last long.
    Erica
    DD 1/05
    DS 9/08

    Since one just does not simply walk into Mordor, I say we form a conga line and dance our way in.
    Excuse me, are you in a play​?

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    Gena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vludmilla View Post
    Gena,
    I don't have any BTDT experience and this may not be appropriate for your interests or your son's needs right now but it made me think of Project Lifesaver. It started in my area a couple of years ago and I know some parents who have been very happy with it.
    http://mentalhealth.westchestergov.c...98&Itemid=3470
    Thanks for your response. Project Lifesaver is a really great program. Unfortunately our town doesn't participate, although I know one of the neighboring recently started . (I saw their flyer at the Peds office a couple of weeks ago.)

    DS does wear a medical bracelet with his diagnoses on the front and our cell phone numbers on the back. It's not a tracking device, but if he were to get away and someone finds him, they can contact us. It's not a solution, but it does give me some small piece of mind.

    I really want to focus more on what we and the school/daycare staff can do to keep him from getting off the grounds in the first place. The daycare (where his after-school care program is) is going to change the latch on the playground gate to one where an adult needs to reach over the fence and pull a pin. So that should help.
    Gena

    DS, age 11 and always amazing

    “Autistics are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." - Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong

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    o_mom is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    At home, do you have an alarm system? Can you set the doors to 'chime' when they are opened? If not, you can buy stick-on alarms at Lowes or BBB. They are not expensive - like $10 for 4 or something and they can be set to either alarm or chime when the door is opened.

    For the school - they are putting in a new latch, what about a self-closing mechanism on the gate? Basically a spring that will close the gate after someone goes through so that you don't get the gate left open. An alarm/chime on that as well would be good.
    Mama to three boys ('03, '05, '07)

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    Gena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by o_mom View Post
    At home, do you have an alarm system? Can you set the doors to 'chime' when they are opened? If not, you can buy stick-on alarms at Lowes or BBB. They are not expensive - like $10 for 4 or something and they can be set to either alarm or chime when the door is opened.

    For the school - they are putting in a new latch, what about a self-closing mechanism on the gate? Basically a spring that will close the gate after someone goes through so that you don't get the gate left open. An alarm/chime on that as well would be good.
    We have door alarms that go off when the door is open. Originally we got them for me, due to sleepwalking. We generally only use them at night, but I do turn them on if I'm going to be in a different part of the house than DS.

    That's a good idea about the self-closing mechanism for the gate at school. I'll have to ask about that.
    Gena

    DS, age 11 and always amazing

    “Autistics are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." - Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong

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    elliput's Avatar
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    I just saw this article on autism & wandering and thought it would make a good addition to this thread. Dangerous wandering a lesser known side of Autism. The little boy, Mason, who is mentioned in the article was from my area and received therapy at the same facility DD does.
    Erica
    DD 1/05
    DS 9/08

    Since one just does not simply walk into Mordor, I say we form a conga line and dance our way in.
    Excuse me, are you in a play​?

  8. #8
    Gena's Avatar
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    To update: DS's elopment/running away at his aferschool daycare program has gotten worse rather than better.

    His autism teacher at school gave us some ideas to manage this and other behavior problems, but these have not been much help.

    Now DS does not leave the playground, but leaves the classroom through the emergency/fire exit and runs into the parking lot. This door cannot be blocked or locked from the inside due to the fire code. Some days he does not run out the door at all, other days he will run out up to six times in a single day. The staff does not know how to deal with this behavior and we have been advised that if DS continues to do this he will have to leave the daycare. Since DH and I both have to work full time, it will be disasterous for our family if DS has to leave.

    We have hired a behavior specialist to help with DS's behavior in his afterschool daycare setting. She will focus on his elopment, but will address other negative behaviors as well. The specialist we hired is a Board Certified ABA therapist, but is trained in other techniques. She will observe DS in the setting, develop a behavior plan, train the daycare staff, and do follow-up as needed.

    I'm really hoping this works, because we cannot afford to have DS expelled from daycare.
    Gena

    DS, age 11 and always amazing

    “Autistics are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." - Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong

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    I'm so sorry! I hope it works.

    In the meantime, can you look around for alternative after care? I am thinking of my older DD's after care situation and just by virtue of how it is laid out, there is no way for a child to escape in that manner. All classrooms either open out onto a fenced playground (including the emergency exits) or they are in an underground, interior space.
    Beth, mom to older DD (8/01) and younger DD (10/06) and always missing Leah (4/22 - 5/1/05)

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    Gena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by egoldber View Post
    I'm so sorry! I hope it works.

    In the meantime, can you look around for alternative after care? I am thinking of my older DD's after care situation and just by virtue of how it is laid out, there is no way for a child to escape in that manner. All classrooms either open out onto a fenced playground (including the emergency exits) or they are in an underground, interior space.
    We had a really hard time finding an afterschool care program for DS. We called/visited many programs and this was the only one that was acceptable and willing to work with DS. The others all had issues including:

    - No transportation from DS's school
    - Playground without fences on a busy street
    - Large combined classrooms (no walls) causing sensory overload
    - Staff attitude of "We'll take him because the law says we have to, but we're not happy about it." (Yes, some actually said this!)

    This is why we are desperate to make this setting work.
    Gena

    DS, age 11 and always amazing

    “Autistics are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." - Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong

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