Autism Safety Measures

I realized that not all homes are Rhema-proofed when we visited my sister over a year ago.

Rhema and her older cousin Lexi were sitting in the living room watching TV, while my sister and I prepared dinner. The girls were being “watched” by my brother-in-law in the living room. Rhema was in a T-shirt and her… unmentionables. She always removes her pants to get comfortable. (It’s still humorous to us when we visit someone’s house, and Rhema takes off her pants as soon as we get in the door. The host will always say, “Oh! Does she need to use the restroom?” “Nope,” we say, “She’s just making herself at home.”)

I was chopping tomatoes, and my sister and I were laughing about something in the kitchen. I suddenly realized that her husband was in the kitchen laughing along with us.

Instantly, I knew.

I ran into the living room. Lexi was in her same spot on the couch, mesmerized by the TV. Rhema was long gone, and the front door to the house was swinging wide open. The adults ran out of the house, up and down the streets, calling Rhema’s name.

I remembered a Nicholas Sparks book I’d read years before I had children called The Rescue. It was about a young, speech-delayed boy lost in the woods in the middle of a storm. The mother was a nervous wreck because she knew the boy might not answer to his name being called. Just like Rhema, I thought. She won’t call out, she won’t respond to her name. How will we find her?

Thankfully, mercifully, it did not take long to find her. She was beneath the deck of a house, crouched on the gravel. I found her there, barefoot, with no pants, happily playing with rocks.

I’m here to tell this story so I guess I did not have a heart attack.


Rhema, is for the most part, fearless. She has no sense of danger. She bolts. She wanders, although I believe she has a destination in mind – (a park she saw once or a curious tree we passed in the car), she seems to have no real concept of space and time. She’s quite determined, quite resourceful, and we now have more than enough escape artist stories. Although she has gotten so much better at responding to her name, she cannot tell you her name if asked.

So. After brainstorming with Carrie, whose daughter wears an ID necklace,  I would like to present my latest attempt at risk management:

hope_bracelet2 rhema_bracelet2

Medical ID bracelets from N-Style ID.

Both girls have them. Hope’s bracelet lists her multiple food allergies and asthma. Rhema’s has her name and phone numbers. (Of course, Rhema did not want to wear it at first but seems to have adjusted.) Our next step is to use the MedicAlert system, which uses an RF tag and can contact families within minutes of a child’s disappearance. (I believe JoyMama uses a similar program called Project Lifesaver).


*Tanya at Teen Autism has written some very helpful and informative posts on Autism Safety and Risk Management.