Federal Funds to Pay for Autism Tracking Devices


By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

WSIL -- The federal government has announced plans to fund tracking devices for children with autism.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer recently proposed Avonte's Law. The legislation is named after Avonte Oquendo. The teen drowned after wandering away from school.
The bill would provide $10 million dollars in funding. While that's waiting to be passed, the Department of Justice has decided to split money and soon start paying for the devices.
First responders in Jefferson County put their search skills to the test Thursday afternoon, following a short training session with CareTrak Systems. 
"When you aim the antenna in the direction of the transmitter, the signal comes on strong." said Vice-President Mike Chylewski.  
The tool works much like a game of hot or cold. In thousands of cases, it's been used to find a missing person. 
"Over the last five years I would say, we are starting to get more families with kids with autism," said Chylewski. 
The Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Carbondale hears about bolting and wandering issues from parents. 
"Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder just don't recognize that things are dangerous," said Kirsten Schaper. 
Professionals, like Schaper, work with children at the center. They go over behavior skills and paying attention to warning sings. Still, kids can go get away.
"You know, they might like water and I'll just go get in the water, and not realizing that it's going to get deep and they can't swim," said Schaper. 
If much of the expense is covered, Schaper feels parents will be excited to use the tracking devices.
"Soon as the child is lost, they'd be able to find out where they are, rather than just where are they?" said Schaper. 
Since the wording talks about GPS systems, CareTrak isn't sure if their company will qualify for the new program. Chylewski is contacting Illinois lawmakers to work out the details. 
"We're in over 600 police and sheriffs offices and fire departments across the country," said Chylewski. 
The CareTrak systems can cost up to 25-dollars a month, but that depends on where you live. For example, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has a program to pay for the devices. Any resident there is eligible to get one for free.
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