September 29, 2018

All We Can Do

It tears me apart when I see news stories of children with autism who are lost. My heart aches for the families and for the children.  I can’t help but allow my mind to go to dark places with regard to Brandon.

We have top locks on all of the interior and exterior doors of our home. We have top locks on his bedroom door to ensure he can’t escape while we are sleeping.  We have deadbolts that can only be opened with the key, and we have chimes on our doors the ding every time a door opens.  We take so many precautions to try to keep him from eloping, but the scary part is that there is nothing we can do to ensure with 100% certainty that he will not be lost. 

It’s hard to explain the potential danger Brandon is in when we are out and about unless you can see it for yourself or experience it with your own special needs child. He is so incredibly impulsive...to the point where we finally felt that we had reached a point of desperation and needed to medicate him for his ADHD. We don’t want to medicate him. I don’t think any parent wants to have to medicate their child. Sometimes it’s necessary, though. We are just at a point where we feel like it is the best thing for him. I might catch some flak for this, but all any of us can do is what we feel is the best course of action for our child. Aside from the impulsive eloping, medicating him for ADHD has definitely proven helpful to him in other ways. He seems happier being able to enjoy moments around him. His self injurious behavior has gone down astronomically. He still has moments where he hurts himself, and unfortunately hurts other people, but it has gone down enough to give us and him some relief.

Brandon will be standing calmly one second and ferociously dart off, making a beeline for who knows what. He is so fast. It takes a lot for me to be able to catch up to him. When I do catch up to him, physically keeping him contained to where he doesn’t run off again seems impossible. He’s seven, tall, and freakishly strong. This is where Bingo, our Autism Service Dog, comes in as far as just walking around in public areas. Brandon is tethered to Bingo, which he loves because he doesn't have to hold my hand, and has much more freedom to move around. This makes certain outings for us that were never possible before, possible. Brandon still often holds my hand as well, but if he rips himself away from me and tries to run, Bingo is right there to prevent it. 

Bingo is a godsend, and has changed our lives, but he does not solve all of our problems. He was never intended to. Brandon does get to a point where he pulls so hard on Bingo back-and-forth, and while Bingo is trained to take it, we will not allow Brandon to put that much physical strain on him. If Brandon gets to that point, we do have to release him from Bingo. Thankfully, if Brandon is having a meltdown and I have to deal with him physically, I can loop the leash right around my elbow, and Bingo gives me zero trouble. That is something about Bingo I am still in all of. I don’t know if it will ever stop amazing me. He seems like a normal dog when he is in our home, but he is a whole new level of behaved when he has his vest on and we are in public. I have so much pride for what an incredible service dog he is. He exceeds my expectations regularly.

As you all know, another important thing Bingo does for us is to be able to track Brandon and if he runs off. I thank God on a regular basis that we have never had to do a real track, but we practice regularly so that we are prepared should Brandon ever leave our home without us knowing. We live right by a busy street, as you will see in the video below. It is imperative we find him quickly should the worst happen. We found the practice track today, and I want to share it with you all.

I think I would like to end this post by just telling all of the special needs parents out there who read this blog that you are not alone in your fears. As I said before, all any of us can do is the best we can. It is scary to think that you have taken action on every possible scenario you can wrap your head around to keep your child safe, but there’s not guarantee. Although heightened, that is not just a special needs parents, but with all parents. I feel like it’s a catch 22. If you live in fear, you’re closing the world off to yourselves and your child. If you let go of some of that fear, the risks creep in. Our family chooses to try new things, but with caution. I am thankful I have the husband I do to be a partner in this journey. James, I can’t imagine doing this without you. I have the upmost respect for the single parents out there who work harder than anyone can imagine.







1 comment:

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