The Day I Lost Him

*We are all home safe and sound*

As a parent, I think we all worry about losing our children in a crowded place.  As a special needs parent, we know that this could very easily be our reality…and it’s terrifying.

My worst fear became a reality this weekend.

We went to a local fun farm place this weekend.  Corn bins, hay bales, slides, and animals. The boys were having such a good time.

Then I lost Colin.

He was playing.  I was right there with him.  I put him down a slide then went back down to meet him at the bottom…another kid got out of the tube, not Colin.

I looked up, thinking I’d see him just right around me somewhere.

He wasn’t there.  I panicked.  I grabbed Finley and told him to go get Grandma, we needed her help finding Colin.

I really don’t know what I did next.  I think I just stood there, looking.  Searching.  I screamed his name a few times, knowing that was crazy because he wasn’t going to come to me regardless of how loud or how much I called out to him.

I just saw all of these people, wandering.  Playing.  I knew that I needed their help, but my mind was blank.  I didn’t know what to do.  Another mom came up to me and asked if I was okay.

I said, “No.  My son is autistic, and I can’t find him.”

She went to get a worker to help us.  I ran off.   What if he went into the corn maze?  What if he went to the parking lot?  What if….?

This just couldn’t be happening.  I watch my kid.  He runs all the time, but I'm always right behind him. I know where he is all the time.  How could he be gone? I plan.  I make back-up plans.  I survey all locations, making sure I know every entrance, every possible exit.  If he even thinks about running away, I’m right behind him.  This couldn’t be real. It was almost as if time had stopped.  My brain was working so fast, but my body just couldn’t keep up.

A woman who worked there came and took me by the arm.  She assured me that he was okay.  They’d find him.  I heard someone come over the radio and say, “I just saw that kid by the big white slides.  I have him.  He’s here.”

Lois was her name, and she walked me over to the big white slides.  It was over the hill from where I had lost him. I looked over the hill, and sure enough, there he was -just getting off of the slide.  Smiling.  Playing.  Not a care in the world.  He didn’t know that I was worried sick.  He knew where he was…he was just sliding. He was wearing his Hakuna Matata shirt, and sure enough, he was living his best "no worries" life.

I ran and grabbed him.  I cried.  Lois hugged me and assured me again that it was okay.

I want to thank Lois for getting me to my Colin and for showing such compassion when I needed it.

I want to thank all of the workers who helped us find him.  I couldn’t have done that on my own.

I want to thank the mom who saw my distress and helped me out when my brain couldn’t come up with a solid plan of action.

I want to thank the little boy who checked on Colin’s grandma, saying, “Did you find him? Is he okay?”

It's times like this that I need a village.  These strangers stepped up and helped me find my Colin.  I hope they know just how much this meant to me and our family.

I plan to go the local Sheriff’s Department next week to get a Project Life Saver bracelet.  We need that peace of mind if this ever happens again.  I'm also looking into Angelsense, etc.  We need to know where he is all the time.

Elopement is real, and it’s scary.

I am sharing this story to help people understand the seriousness of having a child who has communication difficulties.  The dangers we face just by going out and having fun, like kids should be able to do.  To understand how vigilant we as parents must be...and even when we are, scary things can still happen.

When we got home, Finley said, “I’m so glad we found Colin and he isn’t lost.  I want our Colin always, nobody else.”

Me too, Bub.  Me too.


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