GPS tracking proposed for autistic children

Tim Fleischer has more on the push for the devices.
November 4, 2013 3:25:22 PM PST
From the start, when Avonte Oquendo was reported missing after he was last seen on security cameras bolting from his Long Island City School, Kpana Kpoto thought, this could be my child.

"One of the first things I did was go on line and try to find a tracking device I could use for my son. My son is six years old and he is diagnosed with autism," she said.

And now, she is joining with Senator Charles Schumer and area educators supporting an effort to make GPS tracking devices available to parents with autistic children.

"I am asking the Department of Justice to fund devices for children identified as high risk runners," Senator Schumer said.

The DOJ already funds devices for Alzheimer's patients, costing about $100. The GPS tracking service ranges from $5 to $50 a month. It would be a voluntary program, overseen by police departments.

"Because of their sensory issues and for many of them a lack of verbal ability, bolting or elopement is a very common issue with them," Dr. Julie Davis Lutz , Deputy Superintendent of East Suffolk BOCES, said.

With more children diagnosed with autism, area educators believe the GPS tracker is vital for the child's safety.

In Avonte's case, and no one can say for sure, but had he been wearing a GPS tracking device officials believe the chances would have been greater of finding him that much faster.

"The use of these devices reduces the amount of time to locate a child by 95%. That's amazing," Schumer said.

Parents could decide which type of device works best for their Autistic child.

"We're going to need different options that different parents can try out for their children. Some children have sensory issues and may not want something on their wrist. They may not want something on their ankles," Kpoto said.

But most importantly, something that can track them.