LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) - The Autism Society of Acadiana has launched its "Project Keep Our Kids Safe'" campaign. It is aimed to prevent people with ASD from wandering away or eloping.
The organization is raising funds through the campaign to purchase GPS tracking device systems for members of the organization with children on the autistic spectrum.
The idea came about after the tragic 2016 loss of six-years-old Keaton Jones of Youngsville.
"The statistics are really scary when it comes to individuals on the spectrum, eloping and running away and being found in bodies of water," said Vice President Stephanie Krielow.
Parents like Kristin Comier explained how challenging it is to raise a child on the spectrum while keeping up with other children and daily parental responsibilities. "Of course we watch our children. We try to keep an eye on them, but that extra security would just be very reassuring," said Cormier.
The GPS tracking system provides early warning alerts, live updates, broadcasts a missing child and notifies parents if the child has stopped at unexpected places.
GPS tracking devices using radio, Bluetooth or GPS technology significantly reduce the frequency — and associated risks — of wandering behavior among children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders, as well as minimizing parental anxiety, according to survey results presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.
"Knowing that my phone will give me an alert if my child leaves my house. These GPS tracking devices are amazing. They clip on their clothes. Kids can not take them off," said Krielow, who also has a child with ASD.
A recent study, NAA Mortality & Risk in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Wandering/Elopement, found that nearly a third of reported ASD missing person cases related to wandering/ elopement from 2011 to 2016 in the United States ended in death or required medical attention. The study was based on over 800 media-reported missing person cases in the U.S. over a six-year period involving individuals with an ASD.
The Autism Society of Acadiana applied for a grant to help fund the campaign that will bring these devices to Acadiana. "Matt Steller is providing us with $9,350 from the Steller Foundation. It'll be our job to raise another $9,350," Krielow added.
Organizers said a project like this will take a village, but their confident residents will jump-in on the initiative. Members said their main goal is to help another child from going missing.
"Just one of these devices would save on the search effort that could span for days," said Cormier.
The deadline to make the matching grant is December 31. Donations can be mailed to Autism Society Acadiana, 3108 W. Pinhook Rd, Ste 101, Lafayette,LA 70508 and designated for Project Keep Our Kids Safe.
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