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.