We have a Project Lifesaver but it is not great. Not all police departments are trained to use it.
Nick ran away from my husband and I at Home Depot and the store did a Code Adam. We called the police department b/c we could not find him. The police dept. from the city the store was in arrived. They had no clue how to track his Project Lifesaver. We had to wait for the police department from our home city to arrive to find him. This was insane to me since the store is literally 3 miles from my home.
The scary part is he wasn't even in the store! He got out before the Code Adam! Luckily, he was asleep in a storage shed outside of the store.
We have magnet locks on cabinets we do not want Nick to get into. If he does not have the magnet, it works great. We tend to lose the magnet a lot, though.
We have a fingerprint lock on our doors so he cannot escape the house any longer. Problem is the 5.00 lock has a handle that is crappy and I have broke it twice. You have to replace the entire lock b/c you cannot buy a new handle. It works, though.
Here's my collection of elopement (bolting/wandering) resources. If a link doesn't work, try removing any blank spaces from the address. If it still doesn't work, let me know.
General safety articles:
http://www.autism-pdd.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=27735&am p;KW=safety - link collections on our forum.
http://www.disabilitysolutions.org/newsletters/files/four/4- 3.pdf - Disability Solutions issue on wandering.
http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/safetytoolkit.php - an overview of safety concerns and how to prevent them.
http://policeandautism.cjb.net/avoiding.html - "Avoiding Unfortunate Situations" by autism Dad and police training expert Dennis Debault.
http://autism.about.com/od/theautismcommunity/p/runawaylotec h.htm - summary of recommendations from Dennis Debault.
http://www.autismriskmanagement.com/ - browse around at Dennis Debault's website.
http://www.okautism.org/ofca/faqs/safety-solutions/ - frequently asked questions, from Oklahoma Family Center for Autism.
"Project Lifesaver relies on proven radio technology and a specially trained search and rescue team. Clients that are enrolled in the Project Lifesaver program wear a personalized wristband that emits a tracking signal. When caregivers notify the local Project Lifesaver agency that the person is missing, a search and rescue team responds to the wanderer's area and starts searching with the mobile locater tracking system. Search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. In over 1500 searches, there have been no reported serious injuries or deaths. Recovery times average less than 30 minutes."
Project Lifesaver uses radio technology to help local police law See if your new town is involved in Project Lifesaver.
To check if Project Lifesaver is available in your area. Just go to their website and click on resources, then map, then your state (or Canada, Ontario only at this point).
"Take Me Home" program:
http://www.pensacolapolice.com/details.asp?pid=5551 - here's an example of a "Take Me Home" program, where images and information about missing persons are sent directly to the patrol cars, spreading the word quickly and effectively.
http://www.twincities.com/ci_11963293?nclick_check=1 - in Eagan, Minnesota they use mass-marketing's automatic dialing technology to send out pre-recorded messages on children who have just gone missing, spreading the word quickly. This link is an example of a successful recovery of a special needs child.
Pathfinders for Autism has an excellent article on its website, written by the Metro Crisis Coordination Program in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. It has an overview of safety products for autism, including a long section on elopement. Products include locks, alarms, wrist alarms, ID bracelets, fences and surveillance cameras.
http://www.autism-pdd.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=27934&am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;am p;PN=1 - review of the Brickhouse Child Locator by one of our members.
http://www.mydoorangel.com/ - cool door alarm that you can record with your own message (like "go back to bed, honey"). Thanks for the tip njgal.
Kids with autism are 7 times more likely to have contact with emergency officials than other children. It can therefore be a good idea to contact the local emergency officials before a crisis occurs. Pennsylvania is a front-runner in the concept of Premise Alert, and has a form you can fill out and give to your local police, even if you don't live in PA. You'll find the form on their website along with other helpful sections like "Autism 101 for Police."
Elopement from school:
Unfortunately, just picking a safe school and having a good assistant is not enough to address this common behavior problem.
Here's a good introduction to addressing elopement, written by a special education attorney who has experience with several children with elopement issues. The only thing he doesn't mention is putting elopement in the IEP.
1) A written plan on how to deal with elopement, with assigned roles for the staff, prevention (for example visuals for the child) and "fire drills" for dealing with a crisis that comes up despite prevention.
2) Risk analysis -- what aspects of the schedule and surroundings increase the risk of elopement? ie transitions between rooms, located near a busy street, etc.
3) Equipment -- teachers and other staff must be able to communicate with each other quickly in a crisis. Walkie-talkies are essential.
4) Functional Behavior Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plan -- this is the most important step. Why does the child elope and what can you do to teach him to stay put and get his needs met in a safer, more appropriate way?
Elopement on the IEP:
The following website includes sample IEP goals for a student who was a flight risk. The goals involved staying on task and remaining in the assigned area.
http://www.kid-power.org/samples/goals.html (this link was broken July 2011)
The following website includes sample IEP goals for what to do when you get lost. See page 38. It's also a good idea to browse around for other goals.
The butterflyeffects website listed the four elements that an action plan for elopement might have. (1) intervention or changing how the adult responds/reacts, (2) prevention such as safety equipment, (3) behavior replacement, and (4) skill acquisition.
Some skills that might be missing or in need of reinforcement are:
accepting redirection (for example, come back here)
reacting appropriately to demands
reacting appropriately when told no
transitioning (mastering routines, using visual schedules, etc)
problem solving (figuring out what to do in an unfamiliar or challenging situation)
knowing how to ask for help
Source: Unfortunately the original article was removed, but they still have a general article about elopement at that website: http://www.butterflyeffects.com/topics/elopement-running-awa y.
http://lindahodgdon.com/newsletters.html#article1 - Linda Hodgson's May 2008 newsletter covers teaching a child to respond when called. Unfortunately she removed her archive, so the link no longer works.
http://sites.google.com/site/autismgames/home/games-pages/ga mes-index-1-beginning-level/calling-and-greeting - more games and activities to teach a child to answer when called. Check out their other games, for example "Can we go?"
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/31/autism.applied.beha vior.analysis/#cnnSTCVideo - CNN video and article about an 8 year old who would run off in order to get access to a preferred item or activity. They used ABA to teach him to ask for the item/activity with PECS instead.
An assistant (para, shadow aide) can be necessary for safety. See my collection of Shadow aide resources, including a Wright's Law article on how to request a shadow aide for your child:
Sample social stories:
http://www.geocities.com/denisev2/spd_plan.html - running when upset in the classroom
http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/being-a-responsible- person.html - for older kids "being a responsible person" (ie not running away and leaving the group when you don't want to do something).
http://www.linguisystems.com/sample2/6-0295-6.pdf - Simple, illustrated social story written for primary school kids with special needs. The social story on running off (darting) is the last one in the document.
Related topics on our forum:
Any other resources or experiences to share?
thanks norwaymom for the great sites espcially butterfly.com i liked it so much..full of many subjects that are so beneficial to me in teaching the autistic children in the school...god bless you
10 ways to prevent wandering:
CNN has an article about elopement and autism:
They mention a survey led by IAN (Interactive Autism Network, connected to Kennedy Krieger). You need to register with IAN first. Here's the link about the survey:
Great topic, Every year I hear of kids with autism wandering off and being hit
List of 10 resources/devices:
There's a website devoted especially to elopement and autism. It's called Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education.
They have information, useful resources (such as social stories, safety plans and a letter to give to the school) and links to safety-related products. Most of the good stuff is linked from this page on their website:
A 9 year old boy with autism was missing for several days after he ran away from his dad while visiting a battlefield park in Virginia. He was finally found at a nearby quarry, alive, thank goodness.
So I'm bumping this topic, to hopefully help minimize the chances of this nightmare happening to others, or having a tragic ending.
New GPS bracelet:
"Autism & elopement: 8 tips for parents"
Here you can apply for "The big red safety box" which contains various elopement-prevention products.
The IAN survey has published preliminary results already.
Temporary ID tattoos:
Brochure about autism and wandering.
A form to fill out so everyone has the info they need in case the person goes missing: