hands on


Last night, my dear friend Judith posted the following on her personal Facebook page. I asked her this morning if she would be willing to let me share it with you. I am so grateful that she said yes.

Please share it. With anyone and everyone who might listen. I”m begging. Because the judgement won’t stop until the compassion starts. And the compassion will never exist without understanding.




Take a close picture and you’ll notice something — each member of our family has a hand tightly placed on Jack. That’s how we live our lives — always with at least one of us keeping a grip on our dear boy.

As most of you know, Jack is on the severe end of the autism spectrum. He does not exhibit any sense of danger and often can compulsively bolt or wander away. He is fortunate to have a Project Lifesaver device, which allows law enforcement to track him when he wanders from our home. (And yes, we’ve had to call them.)

For those of you who have been to our home, you know it’s like Fort Knox. Special locks and alarms are on all of the doors and windows to keep him from escaping if we happen to turn away for a split second. When we moved in, the first thing Andy did was to visit our local Police Station to let them know that Jack could potentially wander. I went to all of our immediate neighbors, met them and then asked that if they ever saw him wandering down the road, to please grab him.

Jack requires 24/7 supervision. He is surrounded by a loving family who is “hands on” just as the picture indicates. But he has gotten away from us — more than once. For those who say that this sort of thing doesn’t happen to parents who are doing their job, with all due respect, please spend 24 hours with a family like mine. Your perspective will change dramatically — I guarantee it.

Less judgement. More education, support, awareness, treatment, acceptance, accommodations and understanding.



Thank you, Judith. And amen.

National Autism Society Big Red Safety Box

22 thoughts on “hands on

  1. We have two quirky boys- I say that because they appear so very normal to so many people, but both of them take off unexpectedly, and people are judgmental. I’m starting to notice judgmental neighbors, and people who work in education…and… there is a lot of assumption that we are parenting wrong. FWIW, I did this too as a young child, though I think I stopped before the age of our older son, who still bolts in certain circumstances. We need less judgment, and more of a village- we don’t need other people taking on our responsibilities, but we need lots of accepting, caring eyes on our kiddos- which is what I would want for everyone in the neighborhood. A little acceptance of everyone would go a long way.

  2. Its happened to us too. My girl was 2 and mostly non verbal, no socks, shoes or jacket (Feb in Massachusetts), when my husband went to the bathroom while I was at work. She took that moment left to find my neighbor’s dog. It only takes a second.

  3. I will share – I know the fear and the panic – short lived thankfully but I know all too well the feeling of living in a Fort Knox environment. There is definitely a need for education, support, and most of all acceptance. Much love to Judith, her family, and the rest of our autism community.

  4. I have a 15 yr old Daughter with Autism
    i get Judith and without knowing her just by reading this post i can say Jack is in very good hands…
    Yes yes yes to more understanding…compassion …care…awareness

  5. Don’t know if you remember the post I wrote about the day Nik disappeared after Hurricane Irene…and there’s a creek behind our house. Yep. Judith’s words ring so very accurately for us, too.

  6. But you’d have to walk a thousand miles

    In my shoes, just to see
    What it’s like, to be me
    I’ll be you, let’s trade shoes
    Just to see what it’d be like

    To feel your pain, you feel mine
    Go inside each others’ minds
    Just to see what we’d find
    Look at things through each others’ eyes

    -Eminem’s “Beautiful”
    An unlikely source for inspiration, but I’ll take it from wherever I can get it!!

    If only more people could…….or would…..

  7. This used to happen with our youngest when he was younger and I still worry about him deciding to go exploring. He regularly locks himself in and out of rooms and opens the garage door to test his limits. When we are out in public, one of us always has a hand on Logan, otherwise he becomes distracted and goes where he *wants* to go. It’s far too easy to judge others without trying to understand.

  8. I have heard people distrust Lifesaver programs, that they violate people’s rights. But understand, most police officers are parents with red lights and sirens. Officers spend their careers training and hoping to provide happy endings, and, as parents, they dread, with every ounce of their being, the calls and visits, the grief and devastation when a happy ending eludes them. Lifesaver programs help make those happy endings, but people need to support their introduction and use them. Because everyone has the right to a happy ending.

  9. We have the EXACT same story Judith! Words like Fort Knox, wandering, and project lifesaver are all too familiar. My Autistic son is also named Jack (Jackson)!!!! I pray for your Jack and your beautiful family. You are not alone, Judith. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

  10. Pingback: I know Mother’s Day is over, but… | TJs Things

  11. I guess I live in denial about even some of my friends when I was greeted the morning after the news of Mikaela with more than one comment about “why weren’t they watching her?” Education, I believe, is my mission in life. I will continue to speak up for our community whenever and wherever it is necessary. Thank you Jess for your constant vigilance in this area!

  12. I too, have had the experience of my son escaping. Once when he was 3…he escaped into the woods next to our house. It was dusk, getting cold etc. My husband found him splashing in a small creek in the woods. 45 minutes of our lives seemed like 45 years. Another on vacation at the cape…we locked, dead bolted and blocked the door. I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (divine intervention) and I walked past his little bed – it was empty. No need to visit bathroom, that was taken care of when I saw the bed empty!. Thank goodness, he was valiantly trying to open, unbolt, and unblock the door and was thwarted by me. Your mind goes to “Oh, my God. We are right on the ocean – he loves water, if he got out….) We went through it several more times when he was small. We did all the right things…..it still happens. BUT…long winded way of saying, he is now 17 years old and the need to escape has stopped. It stopped when he was about 10. We made it through with those very difficult years. Each, and every time it happened in a spot where the public was involved, the looks, stares and the shaking heads were all visible. Be helpful if you see someone in need. If you can’t, then mind your business and stay in your own lane.

  13. We have had it happen twice. Once in Aruba (the door handles locked only from the outside) and my little guy took off down the hallway to get back to the beach while I was going to the bathroom (I kept the door open and went flying after him while trying to pull up my pants). That was a sight I’m sure!
    The other time my husband had taken him to the bathroom at an Autism walk and my son ran out on him. By the time my husband got outside he was gone into a sea of thousands. Luckily my boy has a great sense of direction and found his way to our team’s site and came up behind me to hug. My husband was soon on his tail and it was then I realized what had happened. Too scary when the walk was based on the edge of the ocean to think about what could have happened if he wanted a swim vs his mom. It only takes a moment!

  14. It truly only takes a split second! My Vincent is considered high functioning and doesn’t usually wander, but if he has his mind set on doing something, and gets impatient, or if he’s in a stressful situation, he will simply walk away. When he was 4 and standing RIGHT BESIDE ME while I was in a department store, I pulled the price tag out of a shirt to see how much it was, and in that instant, he was suddenly and completely gone, no response to “If you can hear me say I’M HERE!” I had the store on lockdown for a full 3 minutes, or an eternity, depending on your perspective! Then there was the time at the nature trail. We were familiar with the short one, a quarter mile loop through the mangrove hammock, nowhere to get lost, he was impatient with his sister, 18 months old and VERY independent, insisting on not being carried, so he would get a few feet ahead, and stop to wait on one of the benches that were placed throughout the walk. We got through, and as we were approaching our car, he headed toward the second trail, which was a full mile in length. In the time it took to scoop up his sister, say ” stop, we’re not going in there!” And head after him at a dead run, he had vanished! This one had a fork in the path ( and tidal pools,and the possibility of crocodiles!) It was about 40 minutes, a frantic 911 call, and the help of a sheriffs’ deputy later that he was found.
    To anybody that would judge, either by thinking you are’nt vigilant enough, or for me,I hear ” why are you so paranoid, you need to let go more” , It really does take walking that mile to truly understand. My kid is capable of telling someone who he is and where he lives, but in a stressful situation, I am not at all sure that he would. It’s terrifying!

  15. I let my memories of my own experience eclipse what I wanted to say in regards to Judith. That even someone like myself, that can relate to this story without any judgement, hasn’t truly walked that particular mile, unless we are in a similar situation. I can’t imagine the reality of having to wait for another adult to be in the house just so you can take a shower, check your e-mail, prepare dinner, etc. Most of us are past that by the time our kids are 3 or 4. Judith, you are an amazing mom with an incredibly beautiful family, and I have so much respect and admiration for the road you are all traveling with such grace. You are an inspiration to us al!

  16. I am a Special Education Teacher with 4 fairly severe autistic boys and I will share this. Bless you and your family.

  17. I deeply can’t Thank You enough for sharing this. We have twins with severe autism and one of our boys moved the couch with my husband sleeping to get out in the middle of the night. He even dressed himself in his sisters dress, no shoes, coat, etc. I woke up noticed he got out of course with the feel of a heart attack. We called 911 after and while searching lucky the cops had him with cps. We were automatically judged. The cop even told us to lock the door which of course were. We have had several people write my license plate down while our boys have meltdowns in the car whether it be at a store, stop light or anywhere. I have had neighbors complain everywhere we go even at Grandmas house about them being loud etc. I get so fed up with the comments, stares, etc. I feel more people are quick to judge when they have no clue AT ALL what we go through every single day. I have to believe God chose us as their parents cause not everybody could. This has helped me just knowing others feel the same as I have and go through the challenges that some just don’t take the time to care or know. Thank You for posting this…Thank You<3

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s