Nelson Leader : April 18th 2013
25 THE NELSON LEADER, APRIL 18, 2013 NEWS Secure: Richmond mother Karyn Thomas holds three-year-old son Noah while Orange Residential Homes general manager Jo Neale keeps an eye on her two-year-old Darwin behind the new gate built by Orange Residential Homes and Trinder Engineers. Photo: SIMON BLOOMBERG No more freedom for youthful Houdini By SARAH DUNN Athree-year-old autistic boy irresistibly drawn to the great outdoors has had his adventures curtailed -- for now. Parents Karyn and Jamie Thomas called on Richmond Kindergarten and Orange Resi- dential Homes to help stop their son Noah from running away from home to roam Richmond on his own. Karyn said when the family moved into their D'Arcy St prop- erty two years ago, they were relieved to see a gate across the front driveway, but it only took a month before Noah figured out how to pull himself up and over. He just saw the gate as a problem to be solved,'' said Karyn. He's not going anywhere in particular, he just wants to check out the world.'' She said Noah had no concept of road safety and would run down the middle of the road late at night. Although he is nearly four, Noah's autism means he does not speak and cannot tell his name or address to anybody who might find him. Karyn has been read the riot act'' several times by strangers who did not understand Noah's condition. The house itself has good locks on the doors and windows near the lounge area, but the back door is a weak point. Karyn created a roadblock by putting a set of dumbbells in front of it, but said she used to sleep with one eye open'' wait- ing for the sound of Noah get- ting away. If it wasn't every week, it was every couple of weeks,'' Karyn said. Noah is surprisingly fast, she said, and has ranged as far as McGlashen Ave. Nearly a kilometre from the Thomas residence, McGlashen Ave leads directly to State High- way 6. Daytime escapes put Karyn in a difficult position as she also cares for two-year-old son Dar- win while husband Jamie is at work. Searching the neighbourhood for Noah was a terrifying experi- ence. You run up the street and you're too scared to turn a cor- ner in case you hear [ambulance] sirens.'' Richmond Kindergarten got involved when Karyn called to ask their staff to keep an eye out for Noah, who also attends the kindy. Karyn mentioned to head tea- cher Robyn Amos that the fam- ily had applied for assistance through various agencies to have the gate fixed, but Robyn decided to see what the kinder- garten could do first. She passed on the project to office administrator Di Palmer. Di spoke to several different contacts before finding support from building company Orange Residential Homes, who are cur- rently working on her own new home. The company designed a metal extension for Karyn and Jamie's front gate which makes it around twice as tall as before and attached wooden palings to the inside so that Noah cannot climb up the inside. Richmond company Trinder Engineers took care of the metalwork. All the work was done for free. Our team are all parents as well so we could really imagine the anxiety [this family] must be feeling,'' said Orange general manager Jo Neale. It was a pleasure to be able to help out.'' It means the family can really breathe,'' Karyn said.
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