Autism from a mama who has been there. I am going to try to post every day this month. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Being a military family carries many challenges. Add a special needs child who is going to be moving and changing schools frequently. You can imagine the exponential stress involved.
We decided from the very beginning that we were going to be open about everything with everyone.
Every change of station meant new conversations with neighbors, churches, schools, and police. (Yes, police.) As your child matures, the number of people you will need to involve increases because their world has grown.
I visited and discussed our situation with all the neighbors, don’t forget to include new move-ins. What I shared changed as my son changed. It started as only “Please let me know if you see him out without an older sibling or me. Do not approach him; just call me.” Autistic kids can get violent when confronted by strangers. And they are amazingly strong. As he matured and his communication skills developed, neighbors could talk with him, ask him questions and remind him that he needed to go home. I wanted him to come back home. (My son was Houdini and a Ninja! No lock could stop him, he considered them challenges, and he was very stealthy.)
Because of our open communication with the neighbors, we prevented calls to the police, panic, and I had a lot of very necessary eyeballs helping me out.
My son’s favorite place to run-a-way to was the big bushes across the street. I am forever grateful for their big, teen boys who would bring him home every time, with a smile on their faces. They were terrific with him.
Our postal carrier also had a good sense of humor as my son was obsessed with the community mailbox and the postal vehicle. If the postal carrier opened a package compartment and my son was in there or if he was trying to catch a ride, the carrier would bring him home with a smile.
Keeping a positive relationship with your neighbors is definitely work, but it is worth it. It doesn’t always work, but that’s okay. Some will be reluctant, and that’s okay. Work with those who are willing. Share funny stories, share fears and tears, share gratitude, share love, and laughter.
Celebrate the small stuff. Be flexible. Laugh.