"Autistic child dies after leaving center
Updated: 01/28/2008 06:47
AMBy: Aaron Mesmer
CABARRUS COUNTY -- A child missing from a care center was found
Sunday, and after being rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of CMC-University, is
According to the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office, the 10-year old
“disabled, autism child resident of the [Howell Care Center] walked away from
After a ground search that included members of the facility,
the Sheriff’s Office other departments, the child was discovered “in a small
branch feeding into a pond on property adjacent to the center.”
was found in a creek leading to a pond. CPR was administered to the child, who
was then transported to the hospital. He died a few hours later.
internal review is underway, and we are making all the required notifications of
this tragic event,” said Sam Hedrick, president of Howell Care Centers. “Our
efforts are also focused on supporting this individual’s family, and the staff
at the center who have become his second family.”
I post this here because I have a story that I want to share about autistic children wandering.
First off, autistic kids are typically drawn to water but do not know how to swim. Oftentimes ASD kids are found in pools of neighbors or (as happened to a friend of ours) climbing out onto a covered boat docked on the lake.
When Extreme Makeover was in NH Kirby wanted me to go see the site. Late one night, after we put the little ones to bed, we left Tom in charge and headed over to Manchester (about 75 -90 minutes from here). We got there around 10 or 10:30pm.
It was neat to be there, a bit surreal with all the lights and the cameras and the big equipment. There were no "stars" on set, so I didn't get to see Ty or Paul (my favorite, but I met him in Wells before). And there wasn't a whole lot for me to do.
Around 11:30 or so I really started not feeling well. I had an awful stomachache and didn't want to be there anymore. I told Kirby that I wanted to go home. He was pissed. We had only been there a little more then an hour, we hadn't got to do much, he was pissed. I told him he could drop me at Alex's (my brother who lives in Manchester) or Alex could come get me - he refused but I knew that it was going to be a long ride home.
We pulled into our parking space around 1am. I looked up at the house to see all the lights on...then I heard a child's voice. I looked out front and there was Andrew, walking down the front steps, wearing only his pull-up and heading down the street.
Kirby grabbed him and threw him at me (while he ran upstairs to find out what the hell was going on) and I squeezed him so hard he told me I was hurting him. "Where were you going" I asked him, "to find you" he answered.
Come to find out, Tom had gone to bed and when he was woken up by Andrew going through the kitchen (turning on lights, getting into cabinets) he was disoriented (as teenagers often are when they are sleeping), he assumed we were home and locked and shut his door. Not his fault...
Who knows where Andrew was going or what would have happened had I not felt sick and asked to come home. Who knows where he would have gone when he didn't find us outside...
We don't live very far from the water and he is more then capable of walking there from here and he can not swim. In Wolfeboro the streets roll up at 9pm...who knows when someone would have found him...
It is incredibly terrifying to think about the "what ifs". I can't dwell on those. We have now installed child proof door knobs and if we leave for the evening both those and the chain are put on the door, Tom sleeps on the couch (where Andrew would have to walk past him) with the phone (so we can call and have him take the chain off when we are coming home).
Thank GOD we came home when we did. Thank GOD I felt sick and Kirby didn't bring me to Alex's. Thank GOD we came home EXACTLY when we did!
The news story just reminded me of our story and how scary it could have been. This is one of the many reasons we need to raise awareness and train our emergency people on how to deal with these situations. You can help me too by joining our Buddy Bear project :)