The most panicked I’ve ever been in my life was when my son took off in a grocery store. He was sitting in the top tier of the cart, as per usual. I turned away from my son to put a grocery item on the conveyor belt, turned back around to get another item from the cart and my son was gone.
My immediate panic went to him running outside, where the store was surrounded by 3 major artery streets in town, and a major highway. A very quick second thought was realizing how much of a safety issue it was that he was non-verbal. My third thought was “Crap, I have to call my ex and get him here” and to top off that thought, we had been fighting via email all morning.
The cashier asked my daughter to be her “helper” while staff started asking me what my son looked like, what he was wearing, and after answering the questions, I just kept repeating “He has Autism, doesn’t talk, and can be violent” over and over again, especially since he was going through one of his headbutting stages. The grocery store was “locked down”, meaning staff was posted at each entrance and exit immediately and no child was allowed to exit without confirming a grown up was with them. I ran outside to circle around the parking lot trying to find him.
Thankfully, they found a little boy within the store, found me in the parking lot and I ran inside to confirm that it was him. The little bugger was sitting on the floor, eating candy right out of the bulk bins (which he’s never done before) and we were all back at the check-out by the time their dad made it across town.
My son’s whereabouts were unknown for less than 10mins but the gravity of having a child who isn’t verbal and who doesn’t respond to his name was very real. So, if I’m a bit protective of where he is at all times, there’s a very valid reason.