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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Day I Lost Him (The Second Time)...

The stupid credit card machine just wouldn't read my card.  I swiped it three times, each met with an error message.  Finally, the overly-chipper Disney Store clerk took the card from me and entered the numbers manually. 

It was part of our usual Monday afternoon routine.  We had just finished an I.V. Glutathione treatment and, as promised, my little hero was rewarded with a trip to the Disney Store. 

He picked out his toy, a Buzz Lightyear figurine, and waited patiently in line to pay for it.  Something caught his eye and he bounced over to the Lightning McQueen aisle to investigate it.  My blood pressure rose steadily as I tried to keep one eye on him and the other on  Mr. Chipper and my credit card. 

"Would you like to pre-order The Lion King in 3D?"  Mr. Chipper was starting to get on my nerves.

"No, thanks,"  I replied, as I glanced over at my son again. 

He was gone.   

I felt my face grow hot and my fingers turn numb.  I walked over to the Cars aisle trying to keep my cool. 


I spun around and surveyed the store with no luck.  "Keep it together, Jer."


"Eric?  Where are you?"


I ran out of the store into the mall.  It was a weekday afternoon, so it was not overly crowded, but scans of both directions yielded no sign of my son.  The panic began to grab me. 

I decided to first walk in the direction we had come thinking he may have headed back towards our car.  I reached the exit and found nothing.  Then I returned to the store and walked in the opposite direction.


Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.  "Call security and close down the exits.  He couldn't have gotten too far," I advised myself.  "Jesus Christ, where is a security guard when you need one?!" 

I returned to the Disney Store and approached Mr. Chipper.  "I lost my son.  He has Autism.  I need you to call security." 

"Daddy, buy Lightening McQueen?"  Eric asked without a hint that anything was amiss.  He never left the store.  He must have been hidden behind one of the displays. 

His voice buckled me.  I hugged him.  I thanked God.  We went home.

As we left I heard Mr. Chipper exclaim from behind the counter, "Have a Magical Day!"  I want to punch that guy in the face.   


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  2. Hi Jerry, it is SarahK from MyAutismTeam and I just think this blog is amazingly wonderfully honest.

    Our little ones can certainly become one with the scenery when they want to!! Our little man "wanders" too. The last time he was visiting his grandfather with my husband and disappeared very quietly out the front door. He was wandering the scary, no sidewalk, crazy drivers on hilly "street" knocking on neighbors doors seeing if he could help feed their dogs and cats! Truly want to microchip my little man like we do with our indoor cats!! Glad Eric was happy and safe and I am sure you only aged a decade in that moment. I think my Autism age is about 500 by now!

  3. Oh boy. I remember those days well. Maxwell was about 4 when he disappeared in a Walmart. All was fine, I found him before we did a Code Adam, but I swear my heart stopped. He did it again last year, at age 11. I choose to not remember the other times he's done this. At least, not this second.

  4. Oh Wow, the whole wandering off thing is probably my biggest fear with Ella's autism. It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

    I can always relate to your blog posts in some way or another. I wanted to hit someone the other day too. I LOVE how you just admitted that. It makes me want to post my "vent" post that I wrote and then didn't publish. I just might do it.

    So glad that Eric is ok!

  5. Hugs to you! My son is a runner and he's taken off many times! I just posted about this on MyAutismTeam - MicheleCA. It's scary stuff and even though I have many memories that chill me to the bone, I do have some I can laugh about now. I try to only remember those!

  6. Our family story is the nightmare come true. Dominic got out of the back yard and he found the creek before the search crew found him. A month later, I ran into a frantic mother at Wal Mart looking for her lost son, then she found him and cried tears of joy and she held him. And I just cried.

  7. oh how badly and painfully I can relate to this one... nothing gets me closer to a heart attack than my sons suddenly dissapearing... I have one wanderer and one bolter, both are good at getting out of their harnesses/restraints, and I am on my own since my husband (their dad) abandoned us... I am constantly living in fear when we have to get out in public.

    So thankful you were able to find him and that he was okay. And yeah, I second your sentiment about "Mr. Chipper"...

  8. My son has been a wanderer in the past but hasn't done this in some time. Last year he left the house twice and one of those times was gone for almost an hour with police looking for him before he appeared. Of course I was running around outside frantically calling for him when I thought to myself how am I going to find a child that doesn't answer to his own name? The next time he got out of bed in the middle of the night and went outside all by himself. I only realized this because I was in bed and my husband noticed 'someone' was in my car. It was of course our little runner. I put sound alarms on all the doors which he hated the sound so that did work, but, he then started going out of the window. I put child locks on the tops of the doors far out of his reach and he also can find ways to undo these! I have honestly considered getting some sort of GPS apparatus for him. I can't take my eyes off of him for two seconds even in our own home!

    1. Needless to say our house is locked down tighter than some jails and I still worry about it constantly!

  9. Our little guy is a wanderer too. He's gotten better about it with age, but he got out of the back yard--I was watching him through the window and he went to the side of the house and about a minute later he hadn't come back around so I went to check and he was walking in the cul de sac toward the road. He's also tried to get out at night. We went through a time where we had to lock him in at night for fear of him wandering, especially because we were living on a lake at the time. I still wake up in the small hours sometimes with the overwhelming urge to check to make sure he is in bed. BTW, we have ordered GPS for him. :-)

  10. I can't even count the number of times I've gone through this. My eldest is "high-functioning" and has never been as affected as his brother; he learned the boundaries of our house around age 4, and hasn't wandered since. My middle son, however, doesn't seem to understand/remember the boundaries I've pointed out. (Of course, it could be he just is ignoring me.) We put hook-and-eye latches on our doors when the eldest was a toddler, then had to move them higher when David was in preschool. We got battery-operated door alarms for the outside doors, then had to replace them this past summer b/c the batteries had died and it was less trouble & less cost to just buy new alarms. I would like to get a GPS-type device for David, as he still wanders at the most unexpected times, but I haven't found one that is waterproof. Does anyone know of a waterproof GPS? If not, maybe we need to work together to get such an item produced. Our kids love water; a unit that shorts out when submerged won't do us much good!

  11. This made me cry. Never having any personal experience with autism, I didn't realize that the fear of losing your child is something that some parents have to deal with no matter how old their child is. It reminds me of an incident I had with my youngest son the other day. He is 4. We went to the post office the other day and as I bent down to retrieve the mail from our box, he bolted out the door. He is a fast runner and he bolted all the way down to the end of the street, which leads to a busy highway. I was sure he was going to get run over and I couldn't catch him in time, so I screamed his name in the hopes it would startle him into stopping, which thank goodness it did. I told him that things like that are the reason he still has to hold my hand!!