Elopement is a legitimate concern for churches as we do a better job of including kids with special needs.  Many churches with established special needs ministries will share a story about a participant who ran away during church.  Those ministry leaders can laugh now about the pursuit that ensued and the happy ending.  But they’ll also recall their near heart attack when they discovered a student was missing.
Occasionally parents will disclose their child’s propensity to wander or bolt.  Candidly, it is a much easier situation for the church (and ultimately for the student) when parents are forthright about their child’s tendencies.  But oftentimes the church ministry team will discover only through experience that a particular participant is prone to elopement.  And as you might guess, those “surprise” moments aren’t the fondest of memories for the staff or volunteers!
The good news is that with appropriate supports, kids who run off can nearly always be successfully included in the church.  But their accommodation plan will require additional safety measures.  Dennis Debbaudt is a nationally recognized autism safety expert and the consultant behind www.autismriskmanagement.com.  There is no better resource when it comes to autism, safety, and law enforcement than Dennis Debbaudt.  With Dennis’ help, we’ve developed the following guidance to help churches.
For specific tips and ideas to help with kids who may run away, continue reading this post at The Inclusive Church.