Elopement. This is not a word that you probably use in your daily vocabulary unless you have a child with Autism. This is a word that is constantly used in our life. What is it? It is when a child runs, escapes, takes off….this is not a discipline issue. this is not an out of control issue. It is one of the many things that come with having a child who has zero fear. Who doesn’t necessarily understand that it is truly a safety issue for him.
So why does it matter today? For the last 2-3 weeks at school, the running has gotten worse, 4-5 a day he leaves the class. Takes off. We don’t go a day without him escaping from his classroom. It is a huge concern. It is a scary moment. Will he get to the door of the fence and dart out onto N. Wickham road before anyone can grab him? Today the principal stopped me and wants me to pick Kolten up 15 minutes early from school because he will not stay safety in line. Now, that is fine…except I have two kids…so I can’t pick up one early and then get back in car line for the other…(she wants me to park in a different part of the school to get Kolten). I said…ummm…..we can talk about it. Then I get to his class, and I talk to Kolten’s AMAZING teacher about it. And she said, just park in car line, come get Kolten and then drive through for Logan, so that you don’t mess up his routine! PERFECT ANSWER!!! The principal didn’t seem to o happy about that decision. Then she is upset that we have jerry-rigged away to lock the doors so that Kolten can’t run…because it isn’t safe for the other kids…what if there is a fire….so now a What If is more important than my child who leaves class everyday. There are 14 kids in the class and only 2 teachers. Not every child is potty trained, so if someone is being changed and Kolten gets out…they either leave the other 11 kids unwatched…or Kolten runs free. THIS IS NOT OKAY. But this is our life.
The problem is…the principal is not really educated on autism. I am sure she has taken an hour course here or there. But she doesn’t know autism. Not like I do. Not like his teachers do. When she talked to me today about Kolten, it was that look, that look of your child is bad, you don’t discipline him enough. It is a typical response. Administrators in buildings, do not always have teaching experience. Let me repeat, elopement is not an issue of discipline. When a child has NO FEAR, they think it is a game. This is a game for him. For Kolten, he wants to come home. So he runs. He wants to be free. So he runs. He wants to escape the noise. He runs. The day ends in Y. He runs. This is our life. This is our normal. Trying to keep him safe when he is bound and determined to try and kill himself is not easy. This is real life.
Our family doesn’t do things like other families. Logan misses out on things, because if I can’t keep Kolten safe we can’t go. I have to weigh the fact, that if Kolten bolts, can I keep Logan safe at the same time. It is a constant struggle of what can we do.
1.an act or instance of running off secretly, as to be married.
2.an act or instance of leaving a safe area or safe premises, done by a person with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment:
Parents of autistic children need strategies to cope with elopement.
See also wandering (def 6).