My son has autism. If you see him from a distance, he'd be the perfect picture of a kid without a single worry in the world. He's big for his age and just like any other kid, he likes to play and make new friends. But the minute he starts talking, you'd know something is wrong. He'll try and talk to you. He'll try to ask questions. He'll try to get you to talk to him and play with him. Only it would be a little hard to understand what he's saying. He has speech impairment. Sometimes he'd say words as clear as day. Sometimes it would be like he's just grunting and making strange noises.
Whenever I'm off work, I take him to the mall with me. I remember one time we went to the department store to buy some stuff. We held hands all the way there like we always do. When we reached the store, I left him at the couch behind me so I could look at some of the shirts on display. And then I got distracted. It was just for a few minutes. When I looked around, he was gone! I panicked. I looked everywhere but I couldn't find him. And then I spotted his sneakers peeking out of the clothes rack. He was sleeping on the floor and probably rolled over where there were a bunch of clothes and went out of sight.
A sigh of relief escaped me. I've never felt so scared and helpless in my life. If someone else had found him, it would probably have taken them a while to find out who he was there with. He won't be able to tell them his name or my name or where we live or how to contact me. That's why, after what happened, I've been making him wear a Lost Kid Bracelet. It has my name and contact details.
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