Operation: Stakeout Surveillance

Suspect: ‘The Rascal’

Crime: Eloping (not the getting married kind, but rather the propensity to wander or bolt)

Purpose: To gather evidence related to the criminal rascal activity

Monday morning 8:23 am

I almost break down in tears with the school secretary, “Who will be with Nichole during recess? We have a plan for this in her IEP for next year, but she has no IEP for summer school! Is there someone actually designated to keep eyes on her at all times!” Breathe, breathe!

“It will be okay” She says, “You can talk to her teacher to make sure you feel at peace.”

Her teacher has talked to every aide assigned to the playground area. She is planning to be out with my child too. She even has the bright orange vest for the rascal I requested for Kindergarten.

“What time is recess?” I ask.

But it turns out there are two recesses, not just one. TWO!

That’s when I decide to conduct a stakeout. It will take all morning. Whatever. I will even follow professional advice.

Step 1: Be unnoticed

The rascal has no idea I will be there. I know she won’t be looking for me.

Step 2: Conduct a “spot check” of the location by driving by once, and get a perspective of the area before permanently setting up your position.

Piece of cake, I already know the area, and I already know the perfect spot for the best view.

Step 3: Park on the opposite side of the street’ from the place you’re surveying.

I know the rascal won’t be looking for me in the spot I selected. She won’t even know I am there! I am right across the playground, I got a perfect view.

Step 4: Jump in the back seat, if your vehicle has tint you’ll be less noticeable.

Forget it. My plan: if the rascal looks my way, I duck!

Step 5: Bring a friend or two to help.

Or call your friend. It makes time go by much, much faster. Especially if the call lasts for one hour and forty five minutes.

Step 6: Try to notice any suspicious activity coming from the person  you are observing.

Recorded results are as follows:

First recess. Rascal throws rocks. Rascal is asked to stop. Rascal wants to swing. Another kid picks her up. Adult intervenes. Kid puts rascal down. Rascal finds sister. Rascal runs away from sister, but towards slide. Conclusion: No criminal rascal activities observed (except for throwing rocks).

Second recess. Rascal bolts! Adult stops her. Rascal bolts! Adult chases her down. Rascal bolts a third time! Adult catches her. Rascal noodles out of adult hand hold (dropped to the ground). Teacher approaches. Teacher grabs rascal’s hand and they walk. Rascal appears to be interested in the basketball hoop (is that why she bolted?). Rascal throws hoops. Rascal has yet to develop a talent for basketball. Sister finds rascal, they have short interaction. Rascal is done with recess, she waits by the door. Conclusion: Criminal Rascal activity detected three times. Adult supervision successful.

Monday morning 10:45 am.

Stakeout over.

Mom wonders, what to do next?

Mom reads kindle (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows) until the end of summer school session.


Eloping is a serious concern for many parents of children with special needs. Eloping refers to the impulse some children have to run, bolt, or wander. Eloping can have tragic results as children are lost or involved in fatal accidents.

My daughter with Down syndrome is a runner. We have had two instances where we thankfully caught her right in time. It is terrifying! It happens quickly, without warning, and it is not a result of a lack of parental supervision. For this reason, it is very clear in her IEP that safety is a main concern.

I wrote on Facebook, “Today was our first day of summer school. I spent the morning parked outside the school because my rascal has recess now, and I had to make sure she was not going to run away (she is a runner). It was good to see one of the aides was ready to run after her, which she had to do a few times. The thought of her taking off and getting lost (or hurt) terrifies me. Please tell me I am not the only one that worries about this!”

Based on the responses I received, it turns out this is a real concern for many parents of children with special needs.

What about you, do you worry about your kid bolting? What have you done to protect your child? Leave me a comment or join the conversation on Facebook.

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