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Support The Mason Alert To Prevent Autism Wandering and Death

Mason Sheila and Kenneth Medlam are the parents of Mason, the five year old who left his home, within minutes found a pond and drowned. They are rallying for a "Mason Alert" and ask you to sign the petition: HERE. From the family's website: Mason Allen Medlam.

On July 27th, 2010 our darling five year old autistic son escaped through a partially opened bedroom window and ran across the street to the pond.  My oldest child,who was watching him, called me at work when she couldn't find him.  I immediately called 911, and made the twenty five minute drive home in about fifteen minutes.  While on the phone with 911, I repeatedly asked the police to check the pond, but when I finally arrived home, no one was at the pond.  I rushed over and found my beautiful boy floating face down in that awful water.  Screaming, I dove in and pulled him out and began CPR.  His little body was still pink, but his eyes were closed and his lips were blue.  The paramedics arrived minutes later and took over the CPR.  I was overwhelmed with anger and despair.  I later learned that the police hadn't been to the neighbor's pond because it was overgrown with weeds and they couldn't find it.

The doctors managed to get Mason's heart to beat and for two days we fought to keep him with us.  We said every prayer that we could say.  We begged and pleaded with God and we refused to let doctors take him off life support, but even modern medicine can't change some things, because in the end, there was no way to keep his little heart beating.  Mason died for the second time on July 29th at 7:29 am.

We live in a fairly large city, but the most amazing thing happened.  People fell in love with our son.  Strangers came to pray for him, people we had never met wept bitter tears when he left us, and all of us have vowed never to let my beautiful son be forgotten.  This website is here to promote all of the good works we are going to do in his name.  If his death manages to keep another little boy or girl alive, then, although it will never be payment enough, at least there will be some meaning to this senseless tragedy.

We are working to get an alert in place which will be known as the "Mason Alert".  Unlike the Amber Alert, which only goes into affect when a child has been exploited (Kidnapped or taken), this alert would be geared toward autistic children and adults.  When a normal child disappears, most of the time the reasons are benign.  They went to one friends house instead of the one they were suppose to go to, they went to the park instead of going straight home, ect., ect.

When an autistic child wanders or disappears, the immediate response should be a heightened state of awareness, and an instant realization of the danger that child is most definitely in.  Due to their condition, all autistic children to one degree or another lack the ability to recognize danger signals.

They will walk into a busy intersection, despite traffic.  They will walk through an open front door, not knowing if a predator is on the other side.  They will hide in tight, enclosed spaces, not realizing the danger of suffocation or heat stroke. They will walk down a mile of railroad tracks, not realizing the train they love so much can kill them, and they will wade into the middle of a muddy pond, never thinking that they can't breath the muddy water.

We are hoping that the "Mason Alert" will help to educate authorities and also provide them with EVERYTHING they need to help us when one of our children escape.  Many people may say, "Escape?  How can that happen if the child is really being supervised?"  

Let me just say this.  Since my son died, I have been contacted by hundreds of parents of Autistic children, and not one of them have asked me that question.  Just because a child is autistic doesn't mean he or she isn't brilliant and creative in his or her own way, and the number one outlet seems to be figuring out every safety lock ever invented.  You put one type of lock on your door, and within a couple weeks you are out buying something else because your baby figured out that he can un-slide that lock with a broom, or if you push both sides together you can get the knob to turn.  A normal child learns limits as they grow.  They learn that leaving the house without mom and dad could mean they might get hurt.  Unfortunately, that is a very difficult lesson to teach an autistic child.

We want the Mason Alert to immediately provide authorities with the following:

A current picture of the child.

Child's address and Contact information.

Their facinations: i.e. railroads, small spaces, water

Locations of all nearby hazards such as tracks, pools, ponds, abandoned houses, busy intersections.

Notify if the child is verbal or nonverbal.  This is very important, because when we search for someone, we tend to stand in one place and shout the person's name.  A nonverbal child won't respond to this AT ALL.  When I arrived home, the police were shouting Mason's name.  I could have been standing right beside him, shouting his name and not gotten a response.

How the child reacts under stress.  i.e. do they hide, do they run, do they fight, do they shut down and just stand still.

And finally, how to approach the child and who needs to approach the child.  In some instances, authorities will just have to immediately react if the child is in immediate danger, but in other instances, it might be better to wait for a parent or caregiver, and taking this step might help eliminate danger.

Please sign the petition for the Mason Alert by clicking on the CLICK HERE for Mason Alert" tab and filling out the form.  Your information will be kept confidential.  I will however share any of the comments that help show the need for this alert.  If you do not wish your comments to be seen by any one other than my family, please include that in your message. 

Comments

Annette Thompson

I think more so for these children should be procted. Some times they cant do it their selfs. I aim all for the Autism children to be listed as missing at what ever age.

Annika Zandelin

Sorry for your lost!!!! My son is now 8 soon 9 years old and has ADHD and Asperger....ican´t count all the thousands time´s he has been cloose to die and i just have to watch him all the time.Today he is calmer with right theraphy in school and medication.
God bless you and give you the power to walk on!
Annika Zandelin sweden

Karen Wilson

Deeply moved for by your loss.

Love your idea for a Mason Alert. Would like to see this extended to include kids/adults with Global Developmental Delay. A friend has a son who darts and bolts and is in tremendous peril when he does (he is now 18 and still wanders and bolts). He is not autistic, but cannot comprehend safety, and so would greatly benefit from expanding this alert to encompass anyone who wanders and cannot fathom imminent danger. Alzheimer's and other dementia persons would also fall under this category.

Thanks!

Dana

There are no words to express how very sorry I am for your family's loss. The least I can do is sign the petition, and pass it along.

Marcia Roth

I called my town supervisor to complain about the local fence law that limits the height of fences in the front to 4 feet with 6 feet allowed in the back. Fences are not the whole answer but they can be a first line of defense to slow someone down. I asked for a change in the limitation because New York State will fund the cheapest fence before they will provide in home services. The state is putting the burden of care on the families and communities. Local government is unaware of this shift until parents or worse a tragedy wakes them up to the reality of the autism epidemic.
Every local police officer should have training in dealing with those in the autism spectrum. Training and resource materials are easily available in the internet so there is no excuse. Local governments should require their police departments to adopt an autism protocol.
After I spoke at the town board meeting to ask for increased autism awareness, the town supervisor had another parent of a child with autism call to quiet me. He said other people will be upset if the fence limits are changed, other people will want to have higher fences who don't have children with autism and the town did not have the staff to deal with the changes in the fencing procedures. I told him to become more aware and better informed. These were the same old excuses I heard for not implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act and not giving my son a computer in school.
I went to the next town board meeting and spoke about the ever increasing autism epidemic and the $2.7 billion the state is spending annually to house the small disability population over 44 in group residences. When I stated that the state is spending only $82 million per year on families of the 265,000 people with autism, the town board realized the town has a problem. The supervisor has agreed to form an autism committee to identify where changes should be made.
Families need to be aware that there are no industry standards for products such as fencing and unbreakable windows. One big box sales clerk told me the wind blows the panels out of their fencing. The term safety glass or vinyl varies with each maker. The standards adopted by Miami Dade in Florida to meet the conditions created by hurricanes are the only legally recognized product standards. Any company that markets its products in Florida should have products that meet the Miami Dade standard and can be special ordered for other regions.

Therese Holliday

Our hearts go out to you. We lost our little Wyatt 7 years ago in a car accident so we feel your pain. He was a runner as well and we couldn't live anywhere near water either. Bless you for your efforts.

Allison

Sheila and Keith, I'm overwhelmed with sadness and grief for you and your family. This is my worst nightmare as I have a very crafty runner with ASD. He's managed to escape many times over the years despite security beyond what anyone else I know has. One time the police came to my house and couldn't get out themselves. It only takes a second and the police and the public need to be educated. The term "it takes a village" is never more true than where a child with autism is concerned. I will do whatever I have to, to help you make Mason's Alert a reality.

My heart and prayers go out to you.

Benedetta

I am sorry Sheila and Kenneth:
Yes, properly supervised they can get away from you.
The teachers and aids in preschool complained they kept losing my son. They were delighted when I took him out, and I too was relieved.

We lose our little autism kids because they don't do things the way other kids do, and as adults we do predict more than we realize which direction a kid takes off to.

They are very clever - yes, I said clever. They do have some things figured how to get away better than regular kids.Yes, I say it is on purpose! They double back by turning toward the adult and not away from them, and easily evade our grabbing hands, and even tricking our predicition. Once behind us we still cannot predict which way they go. They got that figured out too. I bet every one of us have turned around to try to re grab only to find our kids have totally vanished! That is because they don't go in a straight line and they prey upon our preditions.

My son biggest desire was feel the wheel of a car roll over him. We kept the ladder to the pool up at all times and were comfortable about that, the pond was a good open pasture full of cows away so we could look at and have plenty of time to run him down. However the road was right in front of the house and the only thing that saved him was the fact that it was a dead end road with very little traffic and except for a visiting, courting teenager - the traffic was slow.

You have to child proof the neighborhood!

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