As we came across the recent tragic incident involving a non-verbal autistic boy reported missing and later found deceased, near a river close to his house - it becomes imperative to address the need for emergency plans tailored to children, autistic children as well as those prone to wandering.

In a somber turn of events, the search mission for the non-verbal little one concluded in a truly heart-wrenching manner.

"What should we do? What can we do?"

Pondering the questions that have driven our writer to craft this post for the next time this happens in our community and beyond - because you never know when it might come in handy for someone, somewhere.

1. Detailed Information Gathering

Collect comprehensive descriptive and location information about the missing child.

2. Communication is utmost important

Identify if the child is verbal, nonverbal, or has limited verbal skills, along with their responsiveness to unfamiliar adults and fear responses.

3. Understanding Preferences

Determine the child's likes, as individuals on the autism spectrum often exhibit specific preferences and fixations. This knowledge aids in locating and comforting the child when found.

4. Respecting Identity Language

Inquire whether the family prefers people-first language or identity-first language. Respecting this preference honours the individual's self-identification and aids in effective communication during emergencies.

5. Immediate Action

Mobilize immediately by searching via car, bike as well walking through the places that the lil one was last seen. Pay special attention to areas with water, as drowning is a significant risk for individuals with autism attempting to elope.

6. Water Search Priority

Recognise the heightened risk of drowning among individuals with autism. Immediate searches around water bodies, such as creeks, ponds, lakes, and rivers, are crucial.

7. Continuous Communication

Maintain open communication with family, first responders, and social media platforms. Share accurate and verified information to aid in the search efforts.

8. Securing the Child

If the child is found, gently secure them and promptly alert the appropriate authorities or call 999. Stay with the child, employing a calm voice and discussing their interests to reduce stress.

9. Supportive Approach

Extend support to families without blame or chastisement. Acknowledge that unforeseen circumstances can lead to a child going missing and reinforce community solidarity in the search efforts. Offer reassurance when the child is found, emphasising their safety.

While the thought of your child getting lost in a crowded place may not seem probable, it's still a good idea to be prepared. Even with vigilant supervision, unforeseen circumstances may lead to temporary separation. Having a proper plan and open communication with your child about what to do in such situations is key to a swift reunion.

It's important to communicate that you will make every effort to stay together, but in busy places, it's possible to get separated for a brief time. Having a plan in case this happens will help them to find you quickly.

Source / Image Credit : Verywellfamily, Raising Clidren Network, Choosing your battles