A few weeks ago, an employee at a local shop nearby found a little guy about 6 years old by himself wandering around wearing only a diaper. When the little boy left the shop and wandered into the street, the employee called the police. When they arrived and tried to talk to him, he wasn't able to communicate, because he was non-verbal.
When I heard that story, I instantly got a knot in the pit of my stomach and chills down my spine. Before Dominic learned to talk that was my absolute worst fear. That he would get separated from us and not be able to tell anyone his name or anything else. I had a feeling the little boy they found had Autism. Sure enough, he did.
Evidently, he was a foster child and somehow found a way to escape from the home. Luckily, the foster parent came forward within a few hours. Leaving, wandering, escaping or bolting from an area without permission is known as "elopement" and is a serious thing for typically developing children. It is brought to a whole new and very dangerous level when you have a child that is non-verbal.
Dominic sometimes tries to "bolt" from us, but it is usually when we are in an unfamiliar place. I just have to raise my voice a little and he knows he shouldn't try again. I do get nervous when we are in crowded areas, but we kind of "tag team" Dominic, so one of us always has him by the hand or shoulders.
He used to know his phone number by heart. Since it had been a while since I asked him, I decided to try on Sunday. He didn't remember it anymore :( That was my mission yesterday - drilling that number into his memory!
I can still remember my telephone number from the first house I lived in. Guess it must have been drilled into my memory at one time. I think all kids as soon as they can talk, should memorize their name and phone number. At the very bare minimum, they should know their first and last name.
If they are non-verbal, then maybe having a plastic bracelet with their name, address and phone number would be good. A lot of young children and not just ones with special needs are extremely trusting and don't always understand danger. Dominic still thinks it's hilarious to sometimes climb on top of our glass coffee table. I wonder if he just doesn't think it's dangerous or whether he does it for the shock value! Most likely, it's the latter :)
I quizzed Dominic Monday morning on our phone number and he got it right on the first try. Whew, am I glad! I also asked him "where" we live. He told me the city, now I have to reteach him our address.
Have you taught your kids their name, address and phone number yet? If you have, at what age did you teach them? If they have special needs, do you have a special bracelet or another piece of identifying information they wear? I would love to hear!
To read more from Cathy, visit bountifulplate.blogspot.com