This past Friday afternoon in Tulsa, Okla., a five-year-old with autism wandered away from home and was tragically killed by a car. This is beyond anyone's scope of a tragedy. It was for this reason that during Jessica's growing up years, her bedroom door had a lock on it, from the outside. Most people supported my decision but there were those who felt it may be abusive. I am going to tell you, I needed to know that my daughter was safe at night so that I could get the rest I needed to cope with the challenges of the next day. I needed to know that if there was a fire, I would be able to find her. Her room was to her like my house was to me and I always locked my house at night.
Before there were locks, I would make sure outside doors were locked at night. I would make sure that the basement door was closed tight, oven was off, coffee maker off, etc. One night I was awakened to a loud thump, thump, thump that could only be someone falling down the basement stairs. I jumped out of my bed with a loud "Oh my God" yelling from my mouth. I knew it was Jess and whether I had left the door ajar or she had finally been able to turn the knob, I do not know. Koosh was right behind, having not heard the thumping but just my yell he was shouting "What, what?" I got to the basement door, it was open and only darkness was beyond. I could not hear a sound. There was a brief instant where I was petrified to turn on the basement light. When I did, I looked down the stairs and there on a mountain of laundry was Jessica smiling up at me. "Aga" she said.
Did I count my blessings? More than once. And then I went to the hardware store and bought a hook and eye for Jessica's door. I was not about to risk that again or something worse. Jessica is older now and living in a family home. She has rights and I am thankful they are attended to. Her family has an alarm on the doors. Works very well. I don't regret putting the lock on her door and will debate anyone who believes that it didn't keep her safer.