Thursday, March 19, 2009

How do you find someone who can't respond?

We have had 3 major occasions where we have 'lost' Jonathan, as well as many minor ones. The biggest concern for me has always been, how do I find him when he won't respond to his name? Often it's not an issue as he hums while he walks, but lately that is getting less and he is getting more confident.

The first incident was a few years ago now when Rob and Nanna took all the kids up to the local school for a fete. They were in queue for something, and were waiting to buy tickets. Jono was standing behind them with Daniel and Sarah... 'was'... a moment after they turned away, he was gone... there was too many things of interest to look at, and he took off. As soon as they realised (seconds later) they started searching and spent a heart-stopping 40 minutes looking for him, at the rides, in and out of the classrooms, all over the school grounds, get the police involved... and eventually found him in one of the classrooms just having a look around.

He wasn't concerned about being seperated, he didn't know it was good to tell someone where he was going, he just wanted to have a look around.

The second time was around a year ago now, I was taking the kids to Dreamworld for an outing, and Jono decided he didn't want to go. We got into the car, drove all the way there, and he started to panic once we arrived. He unbuckled his seatbelt, threw himself on the floor and started crying... I couldn't get him out of the car, and he just could not move he was so terrified... I still don't know why as we had been there a few times before. To save the other kids being too upset we decided to go to Logan Hyperdome and play in the playground there for a while. They were all happy with that and went into the playground ok.

I had forgotten my phone so said to the kids I'll be back in a second and went to the public phone box to call Rob to let him know where we were so he wouldn't be concerned. In the meantime someone had opened the gate to the kids play area and Jono got out to come and find me... I didn't know he had done this until I got back (2 minutes.. ish). After I realised he wasn't there we searched the local area, got a shop owner to contact the shopping centre guards and fell apart in tears. Daniel said 'well, I guess that's it for Jono' (or something along those lines) and I said 'No, we are not leaving until we find him'. Although in my mind I was thinking 'anyone' could have grabbed him and he could be gone. I was terrified. The guards said they found a boy fitting my description screaming a few shops down the way, we took off and found him, curled up in a lady's lap crying his eyes out.

He simply didn't realise I was at the phone booth and came to find me, at least he knew he was seperated this time.

The third time was last week. We went to the local shops and went to the post office, the electronics store, the toilet, the op-shop and then groceries.. we also had to look at the barber's pole that lit up, the interior water features and the chinese shop. After getting a trolley full of groceries, I decided I would buy that shirt form the op-shop and we went back there. I picked up the shirt, parked my trolley and when to the counter with cash in my hand. By the time I got to the counter, he was gone. I finished as quickly as I could (1 minute) and came back outside to look for him. I recovered my steps in every shop we had been too, and couldn't locate him. With a trolley full of groceries it felt like very slow going to each of the shops to see if I could see him. I was calling his name constantly and got Daniel to check the toilets for him as well... after around 10 minutes my heart was in my throat and I didn't know what to do or where else to look.

I went back up the alley one more time, turned around and saw him outside the shop we were last at... walking along, unconcerned because he knew where we were when he left us, and seemed to think we would be there when he got back. I 'think' he took himself to the toilet, but just didn't respond when Daniel called for him.

So what to do next time? I'm kidding myself if I don't think it will happen again. I had a friend suggest we make a business card for Jono with his name, and my phone number... and he keeps it in his wallet and brings it to the shops or whenever we go out. Great idea, and one I think I'll implement, with a little training this could be a great help and something that can put my mind a little more at ease.


  1. Hmm . . I remember the school fete grahically!! Don't panic, how to think rationally, what might attract Jono? where would he go, has someone taken him? listening to the announcements over the loudspeakers and no response, hot and sweaty from racing around the grounds. . a very scary time. And the neeed to keep the other two kids safe too. We put them into the animal nursery nearby, explained to the attendants, and told them NOT TO LEAVE while we searched and searched. Distressing for Daniel too, it was his first school fete and he was so excited to be going. After we found Jono, I just had to stay there and give Daniel a good time on the rides, and meet some class mates. Jono does not understand that his behavour can have great effects on others.
    And I think of other times too . . one of the first at my townhouse years ago when he got out of the side gate from my courtyard, and out of the gated complex (cause the gates were not working), up one street over another street and up the next one . . all so quickly as we were all searching for him within seconds. And tell the othere two to stay inside with the TV . . do not leave !! And hope they will do as they are told while we run and search.
    And the one at church, when Ron snatched Jono back only a metre from the very busy Milton Road. Jono had no concept of his danger.
    No matter how closely he is watched, Jono can move so quickly; it's a tribute to all his watchers that he has had only these close shaves.
    But, yes it does mean it could happen again. Good on you for thinking ahead.
    I like the wallet idea, and wondering about maybe a braclet or a necklace, with an engraved plate? his name and your phone number - something very visable - like some people have medical braclets? With an alert symbol on it? Wonder if Jono would toletate it?

  2. Yes I forgot about those other times, there are many others as well, these 3 are the biggest ones in my mind as they lasted for more than 10 minutes.

    Thankyou for the suggestions, and for me it is a question of 'what' will he tolerate / understand / use, and what is obvious to other people who may 'happen' upon him in the time that he is missing... it's not easy, but with ideas and suggestions I think we can come up with something that can at least provide comfort for me and Rob :)