Wandering… The constant fear parents with an autistic child will always have. Every week there is another news story of a child gone missing and sometimes the results are tragic.
Recently the Interactive Autism Network, A program of the Kennedy Krieger Institute released the preliminary results of a study on children with autism that wander. One thing the study shows is that wandering has never been given much consideration. Only half of families with wanderers report they had never received advice or guidance about wandering from a professional.
Below we provide 10 resources to learn about and help prevent wandering.
Here are 4 organizations that provide resources, guidance and support to children and adults who wander.
AWAARE (Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Education), was launched by a cooperation of six major autism advocacy groups to increase public understanding of autism-related wandering and reduce the number of fatalities associated with wandering. AWAARE provides saftey information, safety guides, and resources to ensure you keep your child safe.
Project Lifesaver provides technology and education dedicated to improving safe outcomes for wandering children and adults. From their mission statement: “Project Lifesaver develops public outreach programs to educate others about the issue of wandering, and they constantly work toward developing public policy and effective law enforcement response to help save lives and bring loved ones home.”
Safety Net Source is a site that pulls resources and media content about wandering from across the web. Created by Lo-Jack, the site aims to stay informed and connected with the caregivers of people who wander. There are over 400 articles about Autism and wandering. You can also find Safety Net Source on Twitter and Facebook.
Founded by Sheila and Kenneth Medlam’s who lost their 5-year-old autistic son, Mason, to wandering-related drowning. The Medlam Foundation lobbies the United States Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and Congress to establish the Mason Alert, a national wandering child alert program run much like the Amber Alert program for suspected child abductions.
Anti Wandering & GPS Tracking technologies
Starting with the least advanced method but defintley one of the best and least expensive ways of keeping your child safe is Tattoos With a Purpose. Lost and Found Temporary Tattoos are a unique way to help ensure if your child is lost they will be found. Whether you are going to an event where there will be large crowds or you live in an urban area the Temporary Tattoos can help if your child wanders. Simply attach the tattoo to your child in a visible area and using the provided marker write down a contact number on the tattoo in case your child goes missing.
- Tattoos are non-toxic
- Tattoos last up to 7 days
- Tattoos can be removed with rubbing alcohol or baby oil
- Price: Kits are $10
EmFinders provides a secure band that is worn 24/7. If a child becomes lost, the registered caregiver calls local law enforcement to file a missing person’s report and then calls EmFinders to request remote device activation. Once activated, The band dials 911, provides a message on behalf of the child, and is responded to in the same manner as any other 911 call involving a person in need of emergency assistance.
- No customized software or additional equipment required
- Works reliably indoors, in urban canyons and has no range limitations.
- The EmSeeQ is the only device of its kind that is integrated with the secure and reliable national 911 Emergency System.
- The band cannot be removed by the child, is water resistant and works in places where a GPS does not.
- Price: $199.00 per unit. Service Plan: $25 per month
Nu.m8 created by Lok8u Combines GPS Technology and Cell ID technology to locate a missing person to within 10 feet.
A child wears a device that doubles as a wrist watch that comes in an assortment of different colors.
- Parents can track their child online or by sending a text message.
- Parent receives an instant alert if device is removed
- The ‘Safe Zone’ feature allows you to easily set your own defined area by time and day. An immediate alert is sent via Text and email to inform you if your child strays outside this area.
- Price: $199.00 per unit. Service Plan: $10-$18 per month
Designed to work for all children Amber Alert GPS can be especially helpful for children with autism. Amber Alert GPS is about the size of an Oreo cookie. You can put it in your child’s bag or you can purchase an arm ankle band to attach to your child. The device uses a combination of GPS and GSM (cell phone technologies) so anywhere your cell phone or a GPS system works the device will work.
- If a child leaves a designated safe zone you will receive an alert.
- Unlike the EmFinder the Amber Alert GPS may not work in water.
- Track your child from anywhere with apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Droid.
- Additional bells and whistles include the ability to call the device and listen in on whats going on as well as a predator alert whenever your child gets within 500 feet of the residence of a known sex offender.
- Price: $179 per unit. Monthly service plans range from $10-$42 per month
SafetyNet™ technology helps public safety agencies quickly find and bring your loved ones home, providing you with additional protection and peace of mind to keep your loved one safe. When a child goes missing Safety Net works with agencies (usually local fire and police departments) that are trained in using Safety Net to search and rescue a missing child.
- Secure bracelet for ankle or wrists (unlike some of the other devices there is no tamper alert if the bracelet has been tampered with)
- Accurate to within 1-5 feet
- 100% water proof
- Uses Radio Frequency signals instead of GPS or Cell phone technology and can detect people in buildings and tunnels.
- Saftey Net works covers 60% of U.S. as well as part of Canada ( See coverage map)
- Price: $99 enrollment fee $30 per month
Personal Child Tracker works based on existing GSM/GPRS network and GPS satellites.
This product can locate and monitor individuals and lets you check their position by Google Maps or the software they provide.
- Works wherever GPS Navigation systems work
- Secure Geo-fence that will send an alert to the authorized numbers when an individual goes beyond a permitted area.
- SOS button will send a help alert and exact location to the authorized numbers for immediate rescue.
- Price: $160 No Monthly Fee