Tonight, on our local news, they ran a story about a twenty year old man that is missing. Most people wouldn't think that a missing grown man is something to really worry over. But then this young man has autism. His parents pointed out that although he has a grown man's body he is mentally a seven or eight year old. I have had to explain that to others as well. L. is a very big boy. Now at the age of eight he is over one hundred pounds and reaches my shoulder in height. Mentally he is around three years old. Imagine if you will your three year old getting upset with you, tantruming, getting physical, and then picture them the size of a twelve year old.
What was particularly heartbreaking is the thought of this man's parents and the anguish that I am certain they are going through, worrying over him. It is something that I have feared for a long time now myself. If someone asks my son his name he will not tell them what it is. He can't recite his address for telephone number. I panic when I imagine what might happen to him. The ironic thing about children with autism is that many of them run. They figure out ingenious ways of getting out of their homes, or backyards. For instance, L. figured out how to open the gate on our fence. After a few heart racing, stomach nauseating moments, I found him down the street playing with the neighbor's dog. We put padlocks on the gate to keep him in the backyard. He began to disassemble the fence, and we're talking the tall vinyl fencing that has no slats in it. He would squeeze through the cracks he had managed to make and roam free once again. You really have to save them from themselves sometimes.
I just hope and pray that this couple find their son, that he is returned to them safe and sound, just as I would want my son to be if it were me.