Autistic Boy is a Real Houdini
Living with a cognitively challenged child is, well.challenging! It also has its humorous moments. Comic relief arrives, just when you are ready to pull out your hair! Although little Matthew, our adopted son who is both Downs syndrome and autistic, did not walk until he was three years old, he certainly made up for it by becoming a "runner.
" (A runner is a child who gives no signal before darting outside and running flat out.) This is a serious, life-threatening problem when the child is severely limited mentally, as Matthew is. He has no sense of his bodily needs—no sense of pain when injured, no sense of cold or heat. He has no common sense to draw upon--just his raw instincts.
If Matthew has an area of savant (genius), it would be getting out of locked rooms. He is an expert in unlocking locked doors—I know, because while he lived at home there were at least three locks on each exterior door to our house. Still he managed to unlock them and take off running without shoes, socks or a jacket.
Given the type of weather we had in Saskatchewan (temperatures can average -30 C in the winter) leaving the house inappropriately dressed was NOT a good idea. I can't count the number of times he escaped so quickly and silently we had to enlist our neighbors to help with the hunt for him. With a shout of, "Matthew's out!" an army of parents and youth would spread in every direction. If more than 15 minutes passed, I called the police.
Keeping to the 15-minute rule, one time I was rushing back to the house to phone the police when I noticed a small yelp coming from the dog house. It was a slightly different pitch than Gus the basset hound's voice. When I got to the back yard, the gate to the dog-run was shut and locked and to this day! I don't know how Matthew scaled six-foot smooth planks to get inside, but there he was, in the dog house, making doggie sounds. When Matthew was three years old, he attended a special pre-school for children who were in need of extra special attention. I warned the staff that he was a runner and could unlatch any lock on the doors of their institution.
They gave me a look of "pity" and assured me he could not escape while under their watchful eyes. Of course, he did. And of course they called me when he did escape which only served to heighten my anxiety—finally; I had to instruct them not to call me until after he was found, since I could do nothing constructive when they lost him.
It didn't take long for the school to place special locks on every exit (something like airplane seat-belts) as they conceded their inability to supervise him. Keeping Matthew safe was a huge challenge in a family as large as ours. With five children, ranging in age from six to sixteen keeping all the doors locked, while acknowledging the other's need for freedom to come and go, was nearly impossible.
I thought I had the problem licked when, one day, I heard the garage door opening. I knew I was alone in the house with Matthew and my husband was at work, so how could someone open the garage door??? It was Matthew! He had unfastened three locks on the door leading to the garage, and then pressed the button to open the garage door with a broom handle. The garage door button had recently been relocated at the six foot level because he knew what THAT button was for! One constant source of concern was the gate leading to the backyard along the side of the garage. It was an old heavy wood thing, which was constantly in need of repair. My oldest son had rigged a rope around the first plank and the post, as a temporary "fix" of this outlet.
I knew this was not going to last long and it didn't. I left Matthew alone in the backyard for less than three minutes and when I returned, he was gone! And the gate was wide open! I dashed to the front of the house where I could see him riding his little green tractor for all he was worth, right down the middle of the street! "God! He's half-way to the zoo!" I panicked. He was so far gone and so small and low to the ground, I was afraid a driver in a car might not see him. I reasoned that if I ran down the middle of the road after him, drivers would see me and slow down. There I was, running down the middle of the street leading to the zoo, slowly gaining on a small boy riding his green plastic tractor, when a police car pulled up beside me.
The officer rolled down the window and in a serious tone asked, "Ma'am would you like me to give him a ticket for speeding?" With an official police escort, I was able to catch up with and bring Matthew home safely. You better believe THIS autistic boy was a real Houdini! Copyright (c) 2008 Rebecca Hanson.
Founder of the Law of Attraction Training Center, Rebecca Hanson is a teacher and mentor to students from around the world. Learn to apply the Law of Attraction to your life through the audio course, Certified Law of Attraction Practitioners' Program, at: http://www.lawofattractiontrainingcenter.com/programs.html or learn about her "A Year of Miracles," teleclass here: http://www.lawofattractioncatalog.com/listings.html?keyword=miracles
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