Garth Davis’s movie works hard to raise awareness about the crisis of children losing their families. It always happens for different reasons, including separation in a crowd, wandering, or even kidnapping. Every parent wants to ensure their kids know as much as possible about what to do in a given circumstance they are separated from their family, but what differences should be considered when the child falls upon the autism spectrum?
First, some common causes of children with autism losing their families in busy public places:
- A fascination with something out of the ordinary
- The need to run to someplace quiet
- Something scares them
- They are running from a friend or relative who wants to give them a hug
- The increased likability of believing lies leads makes them susceptible to kidnappers
- …and these are only a handful of the triggers that could lead to a child on the spectrum getting lost.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #22: Their Senses are Much More Sensitive.
The National Autism Association describes other reasons why little ones with ASD wind up lost. One of their main points being: “Children with autism typically wander or bolt from a safe setting toward something of interest, such as water, the park, or train tracks – or to flee from something, such as loud noises, commotion, or bright lights.” In other words, similar situations to myself at age seven. Further research by the association assesses: “More than one third of ASD children who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number.”
Which leads into the next point I’d like to talk about—how to prepare for potential separations. Any typical child safety course might tell you to make sure your child can recite your address and phone number, but as stated by the NAA, many with ASD would struggle in doing so. I memorized my family’s phone number as a four year old, but not our home address.
I cannot overstate the valuable of finding creative ways to help your kid remember. You know how many commercials use catchy jingles to help you remember their phone number? (Empire Today, Pierre Money Mart for instance) You can do the same to help your kid remember. You also can teach your child specifically what to do in a scenario where they get lost. Teach them to approach a woman or a police officer who can help them, and state a name, phone number, and home address. Another option to keep your child from running away may be to put him on a leash. Although some consider it inhumane and demeaning to resort to chaining your kid to your waist, so this is probably best to use as a last resort.
Discussion about this issue could go on, and even if I had extra time to talk about it, I am unlikely to cover the unique situation between you and your son or daughter. So rather, here are basic rundowns to help you think of ways to protect your autistic child when out in public:
- By the time your child can start walking and speaking comprehensible sentences, you should be teaching them to memorize your phone number and home address. If they are walking but can’t yet speak, give them a card with your information on it.
- Teach your kids about “stranger danger” and where to call for help. There are pedophiles and crooks everywhere, and they look just like everybody else. You need to be the one to teach them all about the signs they have to be cautious of, and that they should not trust anybody they don’t know other than women and the police.
- Take some time to read through the National Autism Association’s guide to help parents of autistic children protect them from running away, wandering, or getting captured by strangers. But don’t let the research stop here. Keep looking for new ways to protect your child.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!