Great Solution to a Common Problem

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I was gardening one fine day last summer, and came around the house to see my (then 2 1/2) son and German Shepherd in my neighbor's front yard with my very confused neighbor. 

Wondering why my antisocial husband would have taken the dog and toddler across the street for a chat, I soon realized my husband was not in the picture.  He was vacuuming in the house.

I called the dog, who rushed to my side, obviously relieved I had taken over.  Best we can guess is that he followed our wandering Bear out the door in an attempt to round him up safely.

I put Kona in the house and hollered for my husband while my super sweet neighbor and her teenage son held Bear's hand and walked him back, even stopping to make him look for cars.  My husband had just realized Bear was no longer "helping" vacuum and was rushing out to look for him, so we all converged in an awkward OMG-what-just-happened pile in my front yard.

That was the day we discovered Bear had taught himself to work the deadbolt.  Even though my husband was in the same room with him, his back was turned and the vacuum masked the sound of Bear's escape.

Honestly, I feel like we won the lottery on this one.  He'd chosen to reveal his new super power in good weather on a quiet Sunday with no traffic when both of us were home and wonderful people who knew him were on hand to intervene.

At this point he had only been in therapy a few months and was still mostly nonverbal.  He could not tell you his name and did not respond to it when called. It doesn't take much to imagine the potential for disaster with a nameless, voiceless child with a fearless, overly independent (one doctor says oppositional) nature.

Two things happened immediately after this little adventure.

1) We installed a hotel style bar lock high up on the door.

2) I ordered him a RoadID.

I've heard about mothers who worry about nonverbal children (especially older nonverbal children whom people expect to speak).  I've read heart wrenching posts and news articles about autistic children who have wandered off to tragic ends.  I've heard about nonverbal kids getting separated in a crowded mall. One brilliant mom I read about made a laminated card with her contact information for her son to carry, with instructions to show it to the nearest guard or mom with kids (apologies to the blogger who told this story, I couldn't find the post to backlink).

But I didn't want to rely on something my child had to remember to show someone (let alone that I had to remember to always make sure he carried with him). 

In my other life, I'm a back of the pack age group triathlete.  Because of this I happened to know about a brilliant, inexpensive product called RoadID.  Swim, bike or run... I never leave for a workout without it.

These IDs were invented for athletes by an athlete because of the ridiculously high incidence of athletes being hit by cars while running and cycling.  These engraved metal plates provide contact information and basic medical info to first responders for accident victims wearing little more than spandex and a heart rate monitor. 

Even though RoadID started out as athletic gear, I was quick to spot their practical appeal.  I happen to think they're a necessity for any family (are you a perfectly normal family with a perfectly normal kid who rides his bike or goes to the park by himself? Case closed.).

But I strongly believe these IDs are an absolute essential for parents of special needs children with a tendency to wander and/or whose ability to communicate is compromised.  And once the RoadID team learned about our community, they were interested in learning more about how they could help.  In the coming weeks, I hope to be announcing a promotional giveaway from them. 

In the meantime, I can only sing their praises and hope you'll check them out.  In addition to the shoe model (shown above), you can get them as wrist bands, ankle bands or necklaces.  We got a shoe one for Bear because he doesn't try to remove it and I don't have to remember to put it on him (if he's wearing shoes, he's got ID).  

And if your wee wandering one is anything like mine... while you're waiting for the ID to ship you might want to want to make a quick trip to Home Depot for one of those bar locks.


  1. What a GREAT idea! We just had this experience oh last month! Miss Emma snuck out the front door while I was making lunch. Just as the little hairs on my neck stood up realizing things were a little too quiet- the door bell rang! I almost threw up because I knew! My sneaky little bug had managed all in 5ish minutes to walk out of the circle our condo is in to the main road and was TRYING TO CROSS THE STREET! Some lady pulled over, Emma ran away (I guess at least she is scared of strangers!) but she followed her to the door. I thought the lady was going to call the police! I was SICK over what could have happened. I told Em how scary it was and she simply said 'Swimming' ya she realized that it was the community pool across the street! Now I am freaky paranoid and everything is locked down like a bunker!
    I am SO getting one of those tags-just in case she breaches security!

  2. fantastic idea. I'm sharing it on my FB page (hope that's ok!)

  3. Wonderful idea- I have struggled with finding the right identification for Brian- luckily we haven't had any escapes from home, but when we go to busy places it's nerve-wracking!

  4. How does the shoe road ID fit onto the shoe? I know Bean would never leave any other kind on.

    We don't seem to have trouble with running away at home (he prefers to lock us out instead, a trip to take out the garbage turns into a big adventure in the freezing cold culminated by a big butt going through a window) but he does run away in public. I've taken to putting VERY brightly colored shirts on him when we go someplace where there will be lots of people and he could get away. That way I can spot him quickly.
    By the way, just wondering if Bear does this thing I call "smack talking?" Bean has turned into the king of "I will shoot you up, fire you up, knock you down, shoot your head off" etc. Always "talking the smack" we call it. OY! Such a wise guy. And so embarrassing out in public. I try to laugh it off, by pretending to be Donald Trump and saying "You're FIRED!" But all the time I am quietly thinking "Does he really mean this stuff? Where did he learn that?"

  5. You're right! This is a fantastic idea and would work for all kinds of kids and situations!

  6. I have also used "whose shoes" from One Step Ahead/Leaps and Bounds for my SPD son, who used to not talk to people. I also used them on my toddler before he could talk. They run about $7.95 for 2 and you use a permanent marker to place your info on them. I do love the engraving though, after about 1 or 2 years of heavy use the info was getting hard to read :( But for $7.95 I didn't mind replacing them.