Parents of children with autism often hear: "What is the big deal?", "Kids will be kids"; "Lighten Up", "Seriously, you are overprotective". What makes a parent's heart go in their throat whenever their child with autism 'bolts', 'runs', 'escapes' or I like this one that the "experts" use: Elopement. Well whatever you call it, our kids do it because they are so fixated on getting to what they want to see or running from what scares them most. And they are fast. Here are some key differences between "he's just being a boy" and being a boy with autism:
1. The child with Autism does not connect well with his or her environment.
2. Autism manifests itself most strikingly as impairments in communication and in the formation of social relationships.
3. Children with Autism are often nonverbal, or when they are verbal they usually do not use the skill to actively communicate with other people in their environment.
4. Many children with this disability have a strong need for a structured, routine environment; change creates feelings or fear and/or anxiety. Some children even exhibit serious behavioral changes including, at times, self-injury.
5. Another behavior common to Autism is a tendency to wander away. Parents often refer to their children as “Houdini,” stating they are able to escape from even the most secured environment and the family usually has multiple locks on every door and window in the home. When this happens, the child may be in a life-threatening situation, especially if they are already out of the physical sight of their caregiver.
6. Children with Autism often don’t respond to their names consistently, if they respond at all. They rarely understand the many dangers in their environment; an approaching car or a stranger with ill intentions.
Many parents report their greatest fears center on their child being missing or if they look away only for a minute; they will find their child gone or darting out into the path of an oncoming car.