• English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • Swedish

Insurance Funding Request

Did you know Firefly products may be funded by your insurance?

Learn More
Back to Firefly Blog

The Wanderer

The Wanderer

April is Autism Awareness Month, and for those of us who have kids on the spectrum, there is a term that we’re all too familiar with- eloping.

Eloping means wandering off, bolting, escaping, or running away.

I’ve always disliked that term because I associate “eloping” with getting married, which is a joyful and happy occasion.

There is nothing joyful or happy about this type of behavior.

Eloping isn’t exclusive to kids on the spectrum, but it seems to be especially prevalent in children with autism.

Our daughter Lilly is no exception- she’s a wanderer.

Children and adults who engage in this behavior will wander off or bolt for a variety of reasons; seeking out a preferred place, trying to avoid something that makes them anxious or uncomfortable, or they may run off spontaneously during a meltdown.

When you have a child with a tendency to wander, you’re in a constant state of hypervigilance.

Whenever we go somewhere unfamiliar, I’m constantly scoping out our surroundings for dangerous areas such as busy streets or water bodies.

I plan ahead as much as I can, looking at the location’s website and checking out the area on Google streets.

Lilly has attempted to escape from our home numerous times, and so far, our trusty chain locks have stopped her from getting too far.

Outside the house, it’s stressful.

After an incident when we were vacationing at a relative’s home where she wandered down their steep driveway to a busy street below, I always make sure she is in arm's reach when we’re at someone else’s home.

Now, at the age of 14, she doesn’t always like that, but until I can be sure she’s not going to be tempted to wander or run off, that’s how it has to be.

I have read countless news stories about autistic children wandering off, and the outcomes are often tragic.

My heart breaks a little each time because I know how easily that could have been our child.

In the wake of stories like this, there’s a tendency to blame the parents.

“Why weren’t they watching their child?”

“How can a parent be so negligent?”

“I would never let that happen to my child. I always know where they are!”

I can tell you that the day Lilly walked off while we were on vacation, there were at least three adults present within feet of her, and she still managed to quickly and quietly slip away.

It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

No one is immune, and realistically you can’t have eyes on your child 24/7 unless you plan to bring them with you every time you go to the bathroom or take a shower.

If you have a child who’s inclined to wander, creating awareness is one of the best things you can do to keep them safe.

Give your neighbors a heads-up, as well as the police.

Educate everyone you know who might be around your child for any length of time because in cases like these, it takes a village.

Firefly Blog

Real life stories, issues and experiences of day to day life by special needs parents and
healthcare professionals.

Jennifer Arnold

Meet Our Blogger

I’m passionate about raising awareness about disability issues through education and outreach. When I’m not wearing my writer hat, I’m usually trying to control the beautiful chaos in my home.

View Jennifer’s Profile

Become a Firefly Blogger

Would you like to write for Firefly? Join our blogger network of parents, therapists and professionals.

Get In Touch

Become a subscriber today

Join over 40,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter with insightful articles just when you need them.

Join Mailing List

By using our site you agree to our use of cookies. Click here for more info.

Accept & Close

No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on

Purchases on $99+

US Customers only. Subject to credit approval. See terms below

Paypal Credit

Pay now or pay over time with PayPal Credit. Just use PayPal Credit in PayPal checkout.

Subject to credit approval.

Purchases of $99+:

No Interest if paid in full in 6 months on purchases of $99 or more.

  • A minimum monthly payment is required and may or may not pay off the promotional purchase by the end of the 6 month period.
  • No interest will be charged on the purchase if you pay it off in full within 6 months. If you do not, interest will be charged on the purchase from the purchase date at the Purchase APR applicable to your account.
  • For New Accounts: Variable Purchase APR is 25.49%. The APR is accurate as of 6/1/2018 and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate (as defined in your credit card agreement). Minimum interest charge is $2.00.
  • Individual items that are less than $99 qualify for special financing when combined for a total of $99 or more in a single transaction.
  • Multiple separate transactions of less than $99 per transaction cannot be combined to meet the minimum purchase amount.

Purchases of $98.99 or less:

Buy now and pay over time with PayPal Credit when you spend $98.99 or less.

  • If you pay your balance in full each month by the payment due date that is on your statement, you can avoid paying interest.
  • Or, make minimum monthly payments, or any additional amount of your choosing, until you've paid off your balance according to your standard account terms. Please note, interest charges may apply.
  • We'll send you email reminders when your payments are due. You can also keep track of your account and view your statements online at any time.

About PayPal Credit

  • PayPal Credit is a reusable credit line available on purchases at thousands of stores that accept PayPal. It's also available for purchases on eBay and exclusively at thousands of other online stores. Plus, it comes with the same security and flexibility you trust from PayPal.
  • If approved, we start you off with a minimum credit line of at least $250. See FAQs for more info.
  • For New Accounts: Variable Purchase APR is 25.49%. The APR is accurate as of 6/1/2018 and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate (as defined in your credit card agreement). Minimum interest charge is $2.00. See Terms and Conditions tab for more info.
  • If you miss a payment your late fee could be up to $38, even less if it's your first time. See FAQs for more info.

Please wait...