Household Looking for Solutions After Boy with Autism Wandered Away from College Unnoticed
A family tries to find out what exactly happened at their son’s school before he left the school grounds unnoticed and made his way home.
The boy in question, 7 year old Landon Refior, has autism and should not be left unattended. His family says “it took many mistakes” on the part of summer school staff and teachers before the boy disappeared and nobody noticed.
It was Landon’s first day of summer school at a new school. He should have got on the bus home after class, but he never did. Instead, he walked all the way home in 90 degrees heat with no shoes on.
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It wasn’t until he got off the bus at his stop that his mother, Rachel Fisher, knew something was wrong. She desperately called the boy’s father, Mike Refior, who ran out the front door to look for Landon. He got there just in time to see Landon walking in the middle of the street.
“Just lug your backpack barefoot. I’ll never forget it. I mean, yeah, I’ll never forget that picture, ”says Mike.
The family believe Landon may have been motivated to go home because he was promised a special snack when he got home from his first day of school.
Photo: Adobe Stock / Iaroslava Zolotko
Luckily Landon made it home safely, but it could have been a lot worse. The family says the chance that their son will get home unscathed is one in a million because he does not understand road safety and has to cross several busy intersections. During the two mile walk home, eight people called 911 to report him.
“He had to cross Q Street, he had to cross Millard Avenue, he had to cross 144th Street,” says Mike.
The family are happy that their son got home safe and sound, but they say the school should have done more to ensure the boy’s safety. You still have to find Landon’s shoes.
“That took a lot of mistakes,” says Mike. “I think that’s the most frustrating thing, the checks and balances they had. I mean, so many people had to fail for this to happen. “
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The family says their son got on his bus when he got on. When the school and the bus company found out that he wasn’t actually on the bus, they pointed their fingers at each other.
In a statement, Millard Public Schools said: “First and foremost, we are grateful that the student is safe. Yesterday, on the first day of summer school, a billionaire student stood in line to get on the bus to go home. He didn’t get on the bus and left school. Then he went home. We work with the family to ensure student safety and are reviewing our procedures to ensure the safety of all students. “
But the family is disappointed with the failure of the school. “We were proud of Millard Public Schools,” says Mike. “We moved from Kearney to Omaha for therapy, for school, I mean, this is a bad day for Millard Public Schools.”
Photo: Adobe Stock / Newman Studio
The family says the district has now provided Landon with a one-on-one educator and plans to take someone home by bus. These are welcome changes, but they may be too little or too late.
“They put in a 1: 1 paragraph that we pushed for, for Landon and were pushed back again and again, always not enough money,” says Mike. “Neither of us is comfortable taking him back to school, honestly. I mean, that was maybe the first and last day of Landon’s summer school. “
The couple are now encouraging other families with children with autism to fight hard for what their child needs. They also hope their story will encourage schools to listen more to parents’ wishes.
The couple would like to thank everyone who called the boy 911 and followed him on the way home as he clearly wasn’t sure he was alone.