Autism, Elopement and the Power of Community

I’ve already talked about this a bit in the About section of the website, but last night as I was lying in bed (not sleeping because I’m so excited about this retreat) I started thinking about WHY I’m even doing the retreat in the first place and figured I should share.

As you may have seen, this event is a fundraiser for an Autism Service Dog for my son Tristan.

I love this kid SO much.

I know all of you parents can relate to that, but what’s unique about being Tristan’s mom is the overwhelming fear that Autism brings to the table.  I know all parents worry for their kids’ safety or their future at some point (or all the time!) but imagine the “normal” amount of worry and multiply that times a hundred . . . or maybe a thousand.

I actually vacillate between feeling hopeful about Tristan’s recovery and confident in my ability to care for his “extra needs,” and feeling pretty deep despair concerning his future and the day-to-day challenges Autism presents for our family.  I’m learning how to focus on the hope and magnify that in my life, but those nagging fears often tap me on the shoulder.
Or smack me in the face.

One of my biggest fears is that Tristan will run off and get hurt . . . or worse.  I’ve known for a while that 1/2 of individuals with Autism are “elopers,” meaning they easily wander or run away from safety.

Tristan definitely fits into this category.   And he is a runner.

The older he gets the harder it is to “corral” him, especially when we leave the house.  Imagine what it would be like if your kid never grew out of that “toddler phase” where they just run indiscriminately in any direction.

Tristan’s 6 so we’ve been in the “toddler phase” for 5 years now.  And he’s fast.

Another complication to this elopement issue is that many individuals with Autism are drawn to water.  (It’s a sensory thing in Tristan’s case at least.)  So things like our neighbor’s pool, which is often left unlocked, 🙁  creates even more concern.

Just to add to my anxiety around this whole issue, I recently read that wandering off is thought by some to be the leading cause of death for children with Autism!  We have “lost” Tristan for very short times in the past and that has been enough to convince us that we need some extra help in keeping him safe.  Service Dogs are trained in Search & Rescue functions as well as a tethering function where the child and the dog are connected so that Tristan can’t run away when we are out and about.  For a while we have wanted to get a Service Dog, but they are very expensive and the idea of fundraising was just too overwhelming on top of everything else that Autism brings to our daily lives.

During one of my most recent bouts of “Autism-induced depression,” some of my wonderful Home Educating friends rallied around me and offered to help raise money so we can get Tristan a Service Dog.  I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to me that these wonderful women have offered to support Tristan and our family in this way.

It’s true that “it takes a village,” but I often joke that in the case of severe Autism, it takes three.

Since we announced the retreat, even more amazing Unschooling friends have stepped forward to help in some way.  I am truly overwhelmed and touched beyond words.

So together we are putting on the Radiant Living & Learning Retreat both to serve our Home Education community and to hopefully chip away at the $13,000 we have to raise to get a dog with the skills necessary to help keep Tristan safe and enable our family to leave the house without the fear that it could end in tragedy.
(Sounds dramatic doesn’t it?!?  But that’s just one of the things we “Autism Moms” worry about on a daily basis 🙂 )

There are also many other ways that these service dogs help individuals with the various challenges of Autism and you can read more about that here.

So that’s my story (part of it anyway).
That’s why you will probably see a zillion posts between now and November reminding you to sign up and share the retreat info.

I love this kid.
And rather than letting the despair take over, I am (with the help of so many fabulous friends) focusing on what I can do to help my baby while creating a fun event to support families who are living (or considering) this amazing life of Unschooling.  I am SO excited to be combining these two passions in my life – Autism Recovery and Unschooling, and I feel SO energized by the excitement that many of you have expressed about the retreat AND Tristan’s dog.

Hope you can join us!!!

3 ways you can stay in touch regarding the event or Tristan’s dog:

  1. click on the “follow” link at the top right of the page to receive email updates
  2. join our Radiant Living & Learning Facebook group here
  3. RSVP to the Retreat Event on Facebook here

If you just want to donate toward Tristan’s Service Dog or
share our fundraising efforts with your friends on facebook
here’s the link to the fundraising page.

You can also share this post using the links below.

Heaps of Love to you All!
Christina

2 thoughts on “Autism, Elopement and the Power of Community

  1. Pingback: What does an Autism Service Dog Do? | Radiant Living & Learning

  2. Pingback: Raffles, Radiant Bucks, and Really Good Food! | Radiant Living & Learning

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