I had to place a service call this morning. The technician hadn’t been to the house in a while (thankfully), so he forgot that I have to unlock several locks before he can come inside.
“Hey. Thanks for coming by,” I said as he walked in.
Ronan was home, and I knew I’d have to accompany the technician away from where Ronan was playing to another part of the house. Before continuing the conversation, I locked the locks and made sure the alarm was active before continuing the conversation. The technician waited by the door as I checked on Ronan. Ronan was occupied and safe, so off the technician and I went.
We had to go out the back door to look at a potential problem area. I said, “Hold on,” and stepped in front of him before he could reach for the doorknob. I unlocked three locks and turn off the alarm. "Okay. It's opened," I said and moved aside.
A few minutes later, we were back inside. I could hear Ronan in the same spot that I’d left him—playing Wii and listening to his music.
The technician and I sat at the dining room table and went over some information and some paperwork. With the paperwork signed, he was ready to go. I thanked him for his help and said, “Let me walk you to the door.” The technician started down the hallway ahead of me. As he reached for the doorknob to let himself out, I said, “Hold on a sec...”
He stopped mid step and mid reach. Then he said, “Oh, that’s right. The wanderer.”
It could be a book title. A song title. Or the title of an epic movie. But it was not any of those. It was a term made in reference to my son.
Ronan has slipped away undetected before. That’s why we have several locks on our doors. That’s why we have alarms on our doors. That’s why Ronan wears a Project Lifesaver device. That’s why we have bright yellow Go bags at the ready by the front door. That’s why I always keep tabs on Ronan. That’s why someone is always within earshot of him.
It’s because Ronan is not only prone to wander; it’s because he will wander.
Ronan hasn’t wandered in quite a bit (thankfully). I’d like to think that he hasn’t wandered because he’s growing out of that behavior. Because we’re doing a better job of keeping Ronan safe and secure. Because he prefers to stay indoors when the rest of us are inside.
Whatever the reason, I will never let go of the fact that Ronan has wandered. That he is capable of wandering. That he’s proven a few times that he will wander. That’s happened when a lock hasn’t been locked right away. That's happened when I turn my head and get distracted. That's when I let my guard down. That's when I think maybe he won’t get out today. Will he?
I can’t and won’t take any chances on Ronan, so it’s lock, lock, lock, set the alarm at the front door. Lock, lock, lock, set the alarm at the back door. Every day. Every time the door opens. Every time the door closes. Every day. And all day long if I must. I will lock, lock, lock and set the alarm to ensure that my boy is safe.
For more information about autism and wandering, please visit these sites, and please also consider supporting the National Autism Association's efforts to educate families on how to reduce and prevent wandering incidents: