While I didn’t care much for the Autism Speaks produced video Autism Every Day and its representation of only the negative aspect of raising autistic children, many of the concerns raised by the mothers in the video (who were unfortunately depicted as selfish and whiny) are valid. The two that really come to mind are elopement and fear for the future.
A common every day fear is that your autistic child will run or wander off, with potentially harmful and sometimes fatal results. This was in the news late last week, when a 5 year old autistic boy was found drowned in a retention pond. What made this particular story even worse for those involved was that the boy was in care of relatives (an aunt). But this problem is not confined to autistic children: the same township in the story above recently experienced the death of a two year old in a retention pond as well.
Since most people don’t live near bodies of water (though swimming pools are becoming more and more common), the refrain “I’m afraid he’s just going to run out in traffic one day and be killed” is one that most parents of autistics can relate to. Again, this is a fear not confined to autistic children, but is also a concern for parents of young children.
I have written a little bit about how you can help prepare your community, especially law enforcement, prepare for dealing with these types of situations at Autism for Parents, though there is a lot more that needs to be said. To be honest, though, I’m not sure what parents can do to stop this from happening (beyond a complete lockdown of their kids). Any thoughts?
Another common anxiety for parents of autistic children is, “I can’t ever die, what would happen to my child?” While none of us look forward to the day that we are no longer around to help our children in person, there are many things that parents can do to ensure their children are taken care of in the future. One of my goals in setting up Autism for Parents was to help address this types of issues, and I recently posted some thoughts specifically addressing this question.
There is a lot of debate about whether or not autism should be cured or if it is a valid state of being. No matter your opinion on that, though, I think it is important for all parents of autistic children to not just identify the challenges/differences of raising and autistic child, but to take the appropriate action to help that child succeed in life.