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When a Parent Gets Criticized If Their Child With Autism Wanders Away


Every year I feel like I hear more stories of children with autism who have wandered away from their families. It’s often one of the scariest feelings in the world when that situation occurs. Instantly the trigger kicks in, and it becomes a time when families start alerting law agencies, neighborhood watches and their friends and family members to help in the search for their child.

The issue I constantly see is when a parent receives criticism for not doing a better job of protecting and watching their children. Often times, the interrogation begins and these parents are asked why they didn’t do this and why they didn’t do that, while others say they would never let their child get into that situation to begin with.

Whenever I hear someone make a comment like that, my bottom line is simple: Never criticize anyone until you know all the facts.

Being a parent to a child with autism can often be a 24/7 job. You support them and you become their champion for supports. Until you’ve walked in their shoes and understand that child as well as that parent does, you don’t do anything by criticizing them during a time like this. The important thing to do is find the child.

When children go missing, it becomes imperative to find them as soon as possible. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is the nation’s clearinghouse on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children, and they do their best to assist families and law enforcement agencies to help find missing children. New technologies are also being developed that focus on safety for families, from smart homes to wearable tracking devices, so you know where your child is at all times.

While I never went missing in my life, I was prone to bolting during my first few years of adolescence growing up on the spectrum. Each individual is different, but today this cause is near and dear to my heart. Every life is precious. And according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, 49 percent of “survey respondents reported their child with an ASD had attempted to elope at least once after age 4 years.” 

There is still so much more we can learn out there about how to protect our loved ones. When the time comes, though, please don’t criticize. Instead, help explore ways with them of getting things back on track.

Be safe and show love during both the good and bad times we all have. I pray for the safety for our families often and always.

If you are looking to learn more about this subject you can find free resources at The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website here.

This post first appeared on KerryMagro.com.

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