I read an article today about a child with autism being kept in a dog cage. Of course at first glance anyone with half a brain would really be outraged. Any parent would be appalled at this type of situation. Who in their right mind keeps their kid in a dog cage or a cage of any kind. Its crazy. Much like the harness and leashes for kids. First time I saw that it made me sick. Who puts their kid on a leash. Well, In steps Autism, and now it makes sense. Still a bit crazy but still a solution for lots of kids.
There are many autistic children who are low functioning, non verbal and in some cases and for some reason, some tend to be violent. I don't really understand that part but something must aggravate them and they become violent. Some kids are runners. They simply take off with no regard for coming back. They get lost. We see it on the news all the time. People spend days or weeks looking for them. It is very sad.
Aidan while being a very happy child and typically non violent is a runner. He will take off at any point for parts unknown if given the opportunity. He has no fear of crossing the street or a main road. He does not understand the concept of looking both ways. He does not look any way. He just takes off. For him its a game like hide and seek or catch me if you can and while he actually does have a sense of direction as to where we live, he is still only 5, not fully toilet trained and my best guess is if he got out on his own, he would be lost. This requires a 24/7 watchful eye as he can open up doors, and as we all know, it only takes a second for something to happen.
We have had to install a gate in our family room to keep him contained when he was younger. He soon figured out how to climb over it. We have those kid safe door knobs that kids can't easily use to open a door but he figured out how to take them off. We have had to install special locks on the front and back door to prevent him from being able to get outside. Our back yard is fenced in and he has figured out how to open the gate. I guess you might say we are locking him up in a cage or at least trying to. We try to limit to a certain degree where he goes even in the house so we don't lose him, so he can't escape and wander the streets. We don't use a leash but without a doubt we have thought about it. He is fast and chasing him for a half a block is stressful.
I have seen first hand the potential side of a non verbal child who tends to be violent at times. It is scary and that child cannot be left unattended in a group of his peers. He is prone to attack for what i will say is no reason at all and could probably do some real damage. We aren't always aware of everyones situation or all the facts in a sensationalized headline.
You don't get to read that the cage was fairly large and not a crate. the child could stand and play much the same way a baby is in a playpen. The child wasn't kept in there all the time. The cage was not solid walled so the parents could see 100% of what the child was doing when in there. No one said if the child was a runner, a flight risk, or how violent he could be with his siblings or other kids. No one knows for sure if he thought of this cage as his fort, his safe place to be. For a parent who has not dealt with any of this type of behavior it is very difficult for you to understand what we as parents of autistic children have to think about. How do we get to protect them from themselves or to protect others in some cases from them.
In Aidan's case it is really about keeping him safe. Safe from himself, safe from the cars going down our street. Safe from being lost. Maybe its about the rest of us being able to just take a few minutes, worry free. I say that while a leash or a cage may not work for me, I get it. If I needed it I would use it. Maybe by making our house a fortress at times and keeping him to an area, we are using a cage, but it is a much needed one for all of us. So maybe lets not be so quick to judge others not knowing all the facts. One note about the pictures, this is 100% his choice to play in them.