Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wandering Through a Winter Wonderland

The east coast was walloped by another snow storm.  A few inches here, a whole bunch more over there.  With dropping temps and white stuff on the ground, we’ll be hunkering down for a few. 

Preparing for the storm was easy:

Get extra batteries. 
Make sure flashlight work. 
Stock up on gluten-free snacks. 
Charge Ronan’s iPad. 
Charge the walkie talkies. 
Get the laundry done. 
Keep Ronan bundled up.  

If we ever lose power, as we have during post storms, we need to make sure Ronan doesn’t get too cold too quickly.  Ronan can’t moderate his temperature.  He can’t tell us if he is too hot or too cold, so we monitor that for him.  Something else we monitor is Ronan’s wandering. 

Ronan hasn’t wandered in quite some time, but the potential is there.  We’re fortunate to have access to a tracking system that can aide us should Ronan slip away undetected.  But, last week, after getting the battery in his tracking bracelet changed, Ronan did not want to wear the bracelet.  He tried to take it off for two days.  It’s not tight at all, but it started to bother Ronan to the point of him obsessing over it.  After several attempts to remove the bracelet by himself, I cut the strap.  I had to.  Ronan had started to rub the skin on his wrist raw. 

When it was off, I immediately put the device into Ronan’s pants pocket.  The pocket had a Velcro strap that I was praying would keep the pocket closed.  It isn’t the best place for the device, but it’s a quick fix until we can put the bracelet back on. 

Keeping Ronan safe is always a priority, but it’s an even higher priority now.  If Ronan gets out, he’s likely to get very hurt.  The cold, the snow, the ice.  It can all be very dangerous for him.  I can’t help but think about what if wandering moments because we’ve lived them—in both very warm weather and in in very cold weather.  Knowing how quickly Ronan can wander, I’ve been dressing him in bright colors.  I dress him in layers and sometimes putting a hat on...just in case. 

I’ve also been dressing Ronan in pants with pockets.  Once he’s dressed for the day, I can slip the device into one of those pockets.  It’s a temporary fix until Ronan’s sensory issues decrease and until we can work out a more permanent solution to putting the bracelet safely back on him. 

As Ronan’s siblings enjoy a snow day, the kids have been reminded to keep the doors that lead to a winter wonderland locked.  The few times they’ve gone out to play, I check, double check and triple check the doors to make sure that they are secure.  

Every time I walk past one of our doors, I make sure that they are locked.

Every time I walk past the walkie talkies, I make sure that they are charged. 

Every time I peek at Ronan, I say a quick prayer.

Every time I peek outside, I get a little shiver. 

I don’t shiver because it’s cold.  I don’t shiver because the landscape has freshly covered snow.  I shiver because as the mom of a child who wanders, past wanderings have happened on days just like today.  When the temperature has dipped.  When snow was in the air.  When ice was on the ground.  When a curious child couldn’t help but satisfy his curiosity.  And when that child took one step outside, in the cold, on the ice, and in the snow, despite the cold, the ice, and the snow, and kept on going…

That is why I shiver today. 

And that is why I pray. 

Angel of God, my guardian dear, please keep Ronan safe and near…

xo, Cat


For more information about autism and wandering, please visit these sites.  Please also consider supporting the National Autism Association's efforts to educate families on how to reduce and how to prevent wandering incidents:


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