The mother of missing autistic teen William Callaghan has made a desperate appeal for help 48 hours after her non-verbal son went missing in dense Victorian bushland.
Penny Callaghan said her 14-year-old son would be scared, hungry and cold after going missing wearing only a blue hoodie and track pants as temperatures plummeted to near-freezing on Mount Disappointment, north of Melbourne, on Monday afternoon.
“Any parent, I'm sure would be thinking the worst-case scenario. I can't do that at the moment. I'm really hoping that we find him today. I don't want him out another night,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
Ms Callaghan said Will was resilient and “very smart in his own way” and despite him disappearing in light clothing with no food or water, she was remaining optimistic he would be found.
“I'm feeling positive because he is quite resilient. He is very skinny. He doesn't have much padding on him but he eats all the time. He is always on the move, he is very active so he's quite fit,” she said.
Will is “very gentle” and wouldn’t harm a fly, Ms Callaghan said, and if he had reached an urban area would be on the hunt for shelter and warmth, but mostly food.
“He is going to be pretty hungry and scared so food is going to be a main driver for him at this point... he loves his food,” she said.
While he won’t shy away from approaching someone for food, she said he would not ask them and instead either take it or begin leading them to somewhere he believes there could be food.
She added it was likely he would be barefoot as he dislikes wearing shoes, and could be covering his ears if there are lots of loud noises.
People living in the area have been asked to consider cooking fragrant food like bacon and onions to encourage him towards homes and play music from his favourite show Thomas the Tank Engine.
“He's just got this most amazing smile and he is a beautiful, beautiful person. I'm not really the praying type but I'm praying now because I want him home,” Ms Callaghan said.
She encouraged anyone who came across Will to use simple and gentle language, avoid yelling, and use slow movements.
Will went missing while with another family member on Monday afternoon who sadly lost sight of him.
“He's fast. And like I said, he's very fit, he loves the bush and the sea, and he's very outdoorsy. He just wants to be outside all the time. Having said that, he's never spent a night outside by himself and he’s never even been camping. So this exposure will be tough,” Ms Callaghan said.
She added that Will loved Tic Tacs and she wished she could give him some, along with all the other things he loves.
“He will want me there, whether or not he'd actually want a hug from me - he doesn't typically like people touching him - it's always on his terms,” she said.
About 450 authorities have been involved in the search for Will, with efforts continuing throughout the night.
Three PA speakers sounded with tunes from Thomas the Tank engine in search teams’ second night looking for Will.
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