I have been planning to write an article about Madison bolting or wandering away since I saw the article in Sunday’s paper. It was about the prevalence of wandering by autism children. It mentioned their interest in bodies of water and moving water. This has caused many tragic results.
It happened with Madison again today. When someone who is 15 wants to go somewhere, there isn’t much you can do to stop them.
When Madison was very young and staying in the church nursery, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to act as an interim pastor. My wife and I still laugh remembering the sight of him running down the hall with a teenage nursery helper chasing behind.
When he was seven or eight, he and I went to see my brother and his son-in-law. We were sitting in their backyard talking when Madison walked around the corner. And then he was gone.
It is amazing how quickly and silently it can happen. Sometimes we hear Madison singing, but usually not.
We ran inside the house, the clock ticking in my head because I knew the longer it took, the further he could wander. I, also, knew that Madison did not know the area and I had no idea where he would go. There were no ponds or water that I knew of so I had no idea where to look.
Just as I was preparing to dial 911, and, even worse, my wife, a car drove up in the driveway and asked if we were missing someone. We followed them as they went next door. There was Madison sitting on a lounge chair, totally shut down. They were having a party at their pool in their fenced in backyard and said that Madison had just walked in the back gate and then sat down. He was unable to speak and just sat sucking his thumb. I talked softly to him and got him to walk back to my brother’s.
He was more frightened of what happened than I was, and for the next few months we would go to their house the other way. You could see the fear on his face when we drove by their neighbor’s house.
Another time we were at home and he just vanished. We were painting a room in the back and didn’t hear him go out. It was before we got the dogs.
He was gone. It was getting dark and becoming hard to see. And I don’t know about other kids, but Madison has always been able to see in the dark. When he is stressed he often wants us to turn off the lights He points to the lights and commands, ‘Black!” Darkness does not seem to affect his movements.
I got in the car and started driving up and down the streets. There are two ponds in our neighborhood and those areas were where I was targeting.
The police showed up in about ten minutes. Just as they and I returned to check in at home, our neighbor John walked up with Madison. John said that he just saw him come around one of the houses. We wonder if he was playing on the swing.
It is a scary time when Madison disappears. He is not able to tell someone his name or where he lives. Now he is big enough that his actions and sounds would be very threatening. He, also, has no fear or understanding of traffic or any of the other dangers he may meet.
It is usually for one of two reasons that Madison runs off. He sees something that lures him. There is a blue house that he likes near us. It is similar to some others on our street but it is that one house that gets his attention. We do not know who lives there and he can’t tell us what makes it special, but he often calls for it.
The other reason is to get away from something that is bothering him. It is this second reason that happened today. We had just returned home and transitions of coming and going are very stressful to Madison. When I finally coaxed him out of the car, he said he wanted to walk. I tried to get him to go around the block, to get out of the road, but he had a meltdown and bolted down the road.
This time we only have to deal with skinned knees and palms. This time…
We have locks on the doors and a fence around the backyard. We have two dogs that we hope will bark when he opens a door or a gate. We tell our neighbors and introduce him to each new one we meet. And we pray.
But isn’t prayer useless and silly? We only do that when we can’t think of anything else. Except…
God, who really exists, tells us that he will hear our prayer and that it matters to Him. You may not feel it, you may not believe it…and I understand both of these, I mean, he is God. What am I to Him? Why would he care?
Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
Matthew 10:29, 31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father… 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
God said that, not me, not a person. And if God says he will watch over us, that he will hear our prayers… how can I disagree? Maybe we need to just talk with Him about it.