We’re fortunate that we’ve not had a problem to date of the Monster deciding to run away from us anywhere. He’s certainly had minor elopement incidents – one particular trip to Sesame Place comes to mind – but by and large, we’ve been very lucky. Between a couple of factors, that the Monster’s a compliant child and that we’ve gone through behavioral therapy to work on awareness that he needs to stick with us, we’ve been a little more relaxed about the whole thing.
(It also helps that he has his necklace, and doesn’t fight us about wearing it, which is a second layer of help in public.)
But that all said, we’re lucky that we’ve not had to worry really about elopement. I hear all the horrible stories, and my wife makes a point of bringing them up when they appear on Facebook or the like. But…
The fact is, Monster’s a homebody.
So far, the only time he really gets ‘away’ from us is when we’re out somewhere that he’s allowed to have more freedom, and it’s usually in the context of the activity, and it’s generally our fault for not keeping a close watch on him in a larger crowd. The scare at Sesame has us sticking very close to him there, so that we can’t get separated (even when he’s wearing the necklace)… but there’s also the park, or the pool, or things like that. When we walk, he almost-automatically takes a parent’s hand and squeezes on command to ensure that he’s actively sticking with them, and even when he’s not holding a hand, he sticks close-by in public these days.
And ironically, ninety-nine times out of one hundred, he’ll come straight back to us anyway at various junctures, rather than simply freely playing or roaming. If we’re at the pool, I’ve yet to see him actually go over to the side of the pool himself without us encouraging him to do so. Or that he’ll do a circuit on some playground equipment, and come back and linger nearby one of us to wait for another direction… And when we’re at home, it’s the couch. If it’s not occurred to him to play with something, or he’s not been told to do something, he plops himself on the couch and waits. Left to his own devices, it’s almost like that’s what he’d do on his own – not a good thing, probably – so we’re working on encouraging him to find something to do (which these days generally means play with the rice box). If he’s in the backyard, he sticks to the toys he knows, and most of the time to his perseverations.
On the other hand, if I were concerned about something that involved his potentially getting out, it’d be someone luring him off. As mentioned, he’s compliant, he’s good natured, and he likes people. We’ve not been in a situation lately where a trusted adult’s not with him… but that’s definitely something that we need him to learn at some point, and maybe ABA or the like can get into that at some point.
But all in all, I’d say that so far, in terms of items on the “things to worry about when your child has Autism” list… we’re lucky in this respect.