It's one of those moments where you know that you don't want to answer as your stomach hits your throat but you also know that you had better answer and quick.
"Hello?" Groggy me...
"Hello yes this is Officer So and So with the Sparks PD".
Fastest way to go from groggy and sleeping to WIDE F-ING AWAKE AND SITTING UP ever!
My first thought is someone is dead. Grandma was watching our kids at our house and someone is dead!
"Mam, I found your number in an I-pad. I have a little boy with red hair and blue sweat pants".
Hearing those words now my husband is sitting up too and he doesn't even have to talk, the look on his face tells me he is thinking the exact same thing I am! Stay calm breath, stay calm breath F*ck me please don't be dead and for a split second I stop listening because my heart is racing and then as quickly as I can pull it together I cut him off and say, "That's my son Zander he has Autism he is non verbal!"
The irony is he knows his name, who his mom and dad are, his phone number and his address but only if he is asked in a specific way.
"Mam, we found him walking down V Blvd. in the road with no coat or hat." I realize the officer is still trying to figure out what's going on!
"Yes um we are out of town, my husband is a musician and he played in CA last night. My mother is watching the kids. He is ok?" V Blvd is a very busy main road out to our stupid not so gated, gated community. People drive like total jerks on that road all the time.
"Yes but we couldn't hardly get any information out of him. We were only able to contact you because of the number in the I-pad. Where do you live, where is home?"
Huge sigh of relief!
"We live off Vand H in the little gated community. How far down V Blvd is he?"
The officer tells me a cross street that is unfamiliar to me and tells me it's quite a ways up from our cross street and then he tells me someone is pulling up.
"It's got to be my mom"... as both my husband and I can hear here sobbing hysterically from the other end of the phone. I'm not sure I've ever heard her that hysterical before. I ask him if she has the baby with her and the officer assures me she does and then puts her on the phone and she's so sorry and I just tell her, "It's ok, just GET HIM and GET HOME, it's ok".
After I am assured he is releasing Zander to Grandma I tell him I'll be getting on the road and back home as soon as I can; I hang up and we just sort of sit there in shock and it takes a few minutes for it to sink in and then my husband hits the nail on the head as I of course burst into tears of relief and also of worry for the future.
"He's only alive because it's New Year's Morning and no one is on the road" he says, and I know he's right.
I've shared multiple stories about wandering and written more than one blog post, and face book posts about him over the last couple of years and always someone tries to act like it's no big deal because their kid got out once when they were little yadda yadda.
I love all my friends and family but it's time to say... IT IS A BIG DEAL! It is a big issue for us and for many other families out there. Zander is almost 8 now and this is an issue that we very well may have for his whole life! Wandering is a real issue and one that needs to be looked at more closely in our country.
There IS A DIFFERENCE when you are talking about someone like our son who can't or won't answer the police when asked his name, number anything. They had NOTHING to go off of other than the number in his I-pad and if they hadn't found him anyone could have scooped him up or he could have been hit by a car eventually because he has no concept of the dangers around him!
This easily could have been a much different phone call! We are very lucky AGAIN! but the odds are not in his favor folks! My poor mother feels so awful but the truth is it could have happened to anyone watching him. It's happened to us more than once. For not being able to answer the officer he is a smart little bugger and an opportunist. He waited until she took the baby upstairs to change him, put on his shoes and went out through the garage door. It's happened to me before, it's happened to my husband. Most recently I had just jumped in the tub when I heard the garage door. I had made sure he was safe and occupied in his room before I started the bath. I grabbed a towel and went after him as fast as I could. I can only imagine what the neighbors think of us and YES because I know you are wondering... we do have security measures in place but you don't know determination until you meet someone on the Autism Spectrum with something stuck in their head that they want to do. There's no swaying them.
The worst part is it's totally innocent on his part. He wants to go somewhere plain and simple. He isn't trying to get lost or scare the crap out of us. He isn't even trying to be disobedient. When we've caught him and asked him in the past "Where are you going?" His answers have been all over the place. "Go for walk", "Wal Mart store", "Grandmas House", "Go to Park", "Dressed for School", even "DISNEYLAND" he was seriously going to walk to Disneyland!
Needless to say we will be purchasing a not so cheap GPS bracelet that allows us to set parameter alerts and track him if he crosses the lines we've set.
I've said it before and I will say it again: Why if we can put a GPS chip in our pets, why can't we put one in our loved ones that are less capacitated and have issues with wandering?
I also think about what may have happened if Zander wasn't still sort of little and cute. What if he'd been a teenager they were trying to detain and he didn't comply. He would just look crazy to them they may even assume he's on something and dangerous. There needs to be a voluntary database for first responders to access with info on our kids so that they know how to handle the situation especially because each person on the spectrum has totally different issues with following directions, behavioral issues, sensory issues. Maybe a universal alert bracelet? I know that there are all sorts of identification products out there but there needs to be something that is instantly recognizable to someone like a police office that they will know it's Autism right away without having to get close enough to read a tag or bracelet. Something that could possibly keep him from being tackled, tasered, cuffed and stuffed possibly even shot? Z doesn't always take his I-pad with him... thank God he did this time!
Please share, help me reach out to others going through the same issues, help me bring awareness to those who would never have a reason otherwise to even think about it. Help me advocate so that maybe we don't end up getting a much worse phone call in the future.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2015 from our family to yours hug your kiddos tight people, hug them tight!