UPDATE: It is with a sad heart that I announce that the body of little Mikaela was found Wednesday morning in a creek near her family's vacation home. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. This is a loss that no parent should ever have to experience....Rest little angel, you will be missed but always loved.
I know all parents have fears of their child being kidnapped or running away.
There is no worse fear imaginable.
Add to that fear a child who wanders. Who is oblivious to the environment around him/her. Who does not respond to his/her name when called. Who does not speak. Who is younger in mind than the body they inhabit.
I have this fear every day. I have two wanderers - Silly and Monkey.
I have had those moments of heart stopping and sweat inducing panic - for a few seconds - but even in those seconds my world comes undone.
For a family in California, this panic and fear has been multiplied a thousand fold. Their 9-year old little girl has been missing since Sunday. She is not your average 9-year old. She has autism. She functions at the capacity of a 1 year old. She is non-verbal. She's gone. Mikaela Lynch is her name, one she will not respond to.
Many people are judging the parents.
She was outside playing in a FENCED IN YARD with her brother. He was frightened by a bee and ran inside. Unfortunately he left the gate open. Mikaela slipped out and began to wander.
What people without children with autism do not understand is how quick these children are.
It takes one second to glance down at your screaming child who is panicking from a bee and then look up and she's gone.
You search frantically in every corner of the yard while your spouse jumps in the car but you don't know what direction to go in.
Children with autism are drawn by water. They do not know the dangers of water.
There was water on all sides of the property the family was renting for Mother's Day weekend - yes Mother's Day Sunday is the day this family's world collapsed.
The family has decided to remain private and only speak through police at this time. Its understandable. They are dying inside every day until their little girl is returned to them. At the same time there are those in the public who are judging them for leaving their child to play outside unattended.
Who are we to say that she was unattended? I have let my children play in the back yard while watching them through the windows of the house as I did dishes, picked up toys in the living room. What parent hasn't? Just because she is prone to wander does not mean a parent cannot feel safe to let her child play in the backyard. She was safe.
She was in a FENCED IN YARD with a CLOSED gate - who would have known a lone bee would have flown into the yard causing her brother to panic and run? Nobody. Not the mother. Not the father. Not the public who is so quick to judge.
It is now Wednesday. She is still missing.
They are searching for her in every yard, house, field, and even more scary - waterway in the area.
Search and rescue teams are combing everywhere possible for this innocent child.
There was an update that pointed search and rescue workers in a new direction after a home surveillance camera showed the girl walking by it.
There is hope. There is always hope.
But right now is not a time to judge. It is a time for prayer, positive thinking, whatever you do when times get tough....and hope that Mikaela is found alive. safe. and returned to those who love her.