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Autism: From the outside looking in.

A Nightmare of Joshua’s Autism

I will never forget September 3rd, 2019. The event that occurred that day will forever be ingrained in my memory. Joshua eloped.

No, Joshua did not get married. Joshua ran away. It was an accident, but I blame myself. I was careless that day.

I woke Joshua up that morning so that I could get him ready. He was starting another year of Pre-K. It was the usual routine of struggling to dress Joshua. He was pretty cranky, so I sang 50 rounds of “Wheels On The Bus” to him.

After I finished dressing Joshua, I sent all of my other school kids out of the door. I double checked Joshua’s backpack that I had packed the night before. By this time, I noticed that his bus was running late. The sun was coming up and the time was passing by. 

Joshua and I stood by the door. I opened the main door, which left the screen door as the only barrier separating us from the outside. Joshua began opening the screen door, so I quickly shut the main door. 

Ten more minutes passed by. The bus was still not here. I gave Joshua a pack of fruit snacks from the kitchen and opened the main door again. I suddenly remembered that I forgot to pack a cup for Joshua. I rushed to the kitchen.

While I was recovering a cup from the cabinet, I heard the screen door slam. I rushed out of the kitchen. Joshua was gone. My foot hadn’t even grazed the porch, but Joshua was already at the mailbox at the end of the driveway. How in the Hell did he get down there so fast? This all happened in the span of 10 seconds. No joke.

He was quick. I know that kids are naturally quick, but Joshua had super speed. My 3 year old child was outrunning me.

I was screaming and crying for help as I struggled to chase down Joshua. He doesn’t respond to his name or any commands. I was helpless. Neighbors had their doors opened, but no one helped. Cars drove past Joshua, as he was running, and me, as I was screaming.

I was worn out. I was forcing my body to keep going. Unfortunately, I was really out of shape. I pushed myself until I couldn’t move anymore. I stood, panting, and screaming as loud as my lungs would allow me to. I continued to wave down cars. 

Joshua was nearing the side road. That side road led to the highway. I started running again as I faced the real possibility that I was going to lose my child. My child was going to be hit by a car. 

As Joshua approached the intersection, his school bus emerged. Joshua slowed down and looked at the bus. Was he thinking about “Wheels On The Bus”? The driver must have put two and two together. She put the bus in park and quickly hopped off of the bus. She scooped Joshua up and put him on the bus. 

I fell to the ground and cried. I just noticed that Joshua’s cup was still in my hand. The bus driver gave me a ride back home. I was so stunned by what I had just witnessed. I was so traumatized that I forgot to kiss Joshua before he left for school.

I went inside and sat on the couch. I began to dissect what happened. Why did I reopen the door? Why did I allow myself to become distracted? Why didn’t my neighbors stop to help me? Was it normal for them to see a mother chasing her toddler through the neighborhood at 7am? 

The next thing I did was thank God. 

God put the bus driver in the right position to help Joshua. Again, showing why I should put my faith and trust in Him. 

I don’t take the boys outside by myself anymore. A child safety lock is now on the front door because both Joshua and Julian can unlock the main door. This incident has made me even more alert. I have to keep reminding my older kids to close the door behind them. 

Donnie and I have always had Joshua and Julian restrained with either a stroller or a handcuff. Their lack of communication skills and comprehension makes it impossible for them to travel on their own in public. I’m always learning new things about my boys, but nothing prepared for this reality.

By Antonia Harris

A stay-at-home mom & dedicated wife on a path to find a purpose.

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