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Mom Finds Age 8 Daughter with Autism Wandering Streets Alone after School Dismissal

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Pick up time after school can be a frenzy of car lines and running children. But after the crowds die down, if your child is not seen waiting by the front doors, panic can set in.

For one Leavenworth mother, that’s exactly what happened. As Jessica Senger and her husband reached  Anthony Elementary School to pick up their 8-year-old daughter, she was nowhere to be found.

The situation was made even more upsetting because their daughter, Autumn, has autism.

When no one at the school knew of their daughter’s whereabouts, Senger immediately went searching.



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She drove down the streets that she thought might be familiar to her daughter. Filled with extreme worry, she could not understand how this could have happened.

Several blocks away, Senger saw Autumn wandering and looking confused. “She looked scared and was crying,” said Senger. The child didn’t understand what was going on.

The problem came from a miscommunication between Senger and the school.

Using a parent/teacher app, she had contacted Autumn’s teacher to let her know that they would be picking her up after school. For whatever reason, this information did not get passed on to the adult with Autumn.

“There was a miscommunication, so it’s our fault,” said Superintendent Mike Roth.

“And so first thing to do would be to apologize, regroup, visit with the parent figure out how we can make that better and then look at procedural processes to make sure that we can either change for the better or make sure that we are following the procedures that we already had in place.”

 

But Senger said that she felt as if the apology was halfhearted. She knew that this event could have led to a real tragedy had she not found her daughter so quickly.

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Roth suggested that Senger might have called the front office to inform them of her daughter’s pick up schedule.

Senger said that there was no reason to, since she had always communicated via the app.

There was a call to come up with new techniques for issues like Senger’s and the school district will be meeting with her to reevaluate what went wrong. They are hoping to put new strategies in place.

The Sengers are exploring options both inside and outside of the district.

Thankfully, Autumn was found safe and the school district can use this incident to improve the way parents communicate with staff, especially when  special needs children are involved.

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