Lessons learned from losing my kid with autism in a crowded place

Lessons learned from losing my kid with autism in a crowded placeWhat would you think if your husband came home with the kids and said, “Everyone is fine now, but I have to tell you something.”?  Okaaaaay…what happened?

A couple of years ago my husband took our two older kids to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk while I stayed home with our youngest.  The Boardwalk is a crowded place, right next to the beach and there are all kinds of rides to go on.  They also have games and food so there is a lot going on.

Our son (Tim) has autism and has been known to wander off.  He asked my husband for garlic fries because he saw other people with them.  My husband told him later they would have fries because he wanted them to go on the rides first.  They were walking towards a ride and suddenly my husband realized that Tim had disappeared.

My husband went straight to security and said that they immediately radioed out to their security and lifeguards to look for our son.  They found him within 15 minutes wandering on the beach.   This makes perfect sense as Tim loves the water and going to the beach.

We were lucky that they found him right away as our son has limited communication skills.  Tim wasn’t wearing any form of identification.  I think its a good idea to have our kids wear an ID that someone can use to contact us if our kids get lost.  My husband, daughter and I wear Road IDs (www.roadid.com).  The reason my husband and I wear them is because if we’re ever in a car accident or unconscious, our ID has our in case of emergency info on it.

Road ID has IDs that can go on your wrist, around your neck and even on your shoe.  Tim will take them off so with him I use the safety labels from Mabel’s Labels as he will keep those on.  The Mabel’s Labels ones are those really strong paper ones that go on your wrist.  These are great for when we go anywhere crowded that he may wander off from.

The other great thing about the ID is that if your child is hurt, a first responder can use the info on the ID to treat him right away.  You can list any allergies, blood type, medical history, etc. This critical information could save a child’s life if they have life threatening allergies.

Going back to that day that they were at the Boardwalk.  My husband said that when they found Tim he smelled like garlic fries.  Hmmm….I don’t know where he got them from.  And I think its better that way.

Tips for going to crowed places:

1.  Put your child in something bright like a bright orange shirt (unless you’re going to a SF Giants game!).  This way you can see him in your peripheral vision if he wanders off.

2.  Have your child wear some form of identification, I mentioned Mabel’s Labels or Road ID earlier in this post.

3.  Take a picture of your kid at the start of your outing so if they do get lost you know what they were wearing that day and have a current photo of your child.

4.  Be clear on who has your child because when you’re in a crowded place, you may assume that your spouse has your child and they think that you have him.

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