August 11, 2013

"They're fast, they're quiet. They can disappear in an instant."

They = autistic children.
The tragic phenomenon goes by various names — wandering, elopement, bolting — and about half of autistic children are prone to it....


Deirdre Mundy said...

I think a big problem is that it's now socially unacceptable to intervene when you see a young kid wandering into dangerous territory.

We've adopted this attitude of 'it's not my kid' because if you scold or stop a wandering child in a public place, you're evil, creepy, or (depending on the race of the child) racist. So you can no longer count on strange adults to intervene when your kid is running towards the pond or into traffic.

The problem is worse for Autistic kids, because they don't LOOK different from other kids (unlike, say, Downs kids) so..... is it a developmentally disabled 8 year old wandering in traffic, or a perfectly normal kid whose mom will curse you out if you try to stop him?

Heck, even calling the police when you spot an unattended kid in a dangerous situation can get you branded a crazy racist.....

Indigo Red said...

A cousin has an autistic daughter we call Miss D. She is a bolter, a fire starter, a cutter, a destroyer, an exhibitionist, and a thrower. Miss D is also a very loving, funny, caring, young woman who knows, but doesn't understand.

MathMom said...

Dierdre is right - that's the problem w/my son. He looks fine, and sounds fine for a little while, then people start to see the difference. Some people think he's just a jerk. They just don't understand the cord doesn't go all the way to the wall. If he had a Down Syndrome face, people would be patient with him. As it is, once I got there just before a policeman drew a gun on him. He was bouncing up and down outside a video store - the cop thought he looked nervous and was waiting for accomplices. I had to tell him he is just autistic.

As to the attitude of it being socially unacceptable to intervene - I used to live in Saudi Arabia and those horrid young Saudi bucks who were ferried around by Filippina nannies were absolutely intolerable at the pool. They were bullies, shoved little kids away from the slide, stood at the edge of the pool and pee'd into get the idea.

A nanny would try to get the boys to get out of the pool and go home, but they would just ignore her. One day I had been watching one who was probably 14 and taller than me, taking advantage of the lack of authority given to the nanny. The little shit was about to jump into the pool again after many requests by the nanny to get out. I walked up to the young bastard and grabbed his arm, told him if he didn't go with his nanny I would rip his hair out.

He was so shocked at being threatened a blonde-haired blue-eyed infidel he went with the nanny. It felt WONDERFUL.

Carl said...

I think a big problem is that it's now socially unacceptable to intervene when you see a young kid wandering into dangerous territory.

I think that's the symptom. The cause is (1) we only have 1 or 2 kids, instead of 4 or 5, so we can expect to keep an eye on all of them, and (2) we don't consider children a necessity, like a college degree, but more of an art hobby project.

And if you go to the lower-income working Hispanic neighborhood in LA, you see what our mothers were like in 1960. Mothers are bouncing babies on their knee while they visit the DMV, shop, fathers are keeping half an eye on them while they cut the grass or change the oil in the car. Kids run out in the street and neighbors holler at them. The prevailing white middle class attitude is by no means universal.