MedicAlert is spotlighting a program that helps parents of autistic children locate them quickly if they wander away. The announcement comes in the wake of a 7-year-old autistic boy who went missing for several hours in a wooded area outside Hilmar.
The program is through a partnership between MedicAlert and the Carlos Vieira Foundation and provides families with devices that are designed to protect the child with autism during wandering situations or other times of need.
The partnership is specifically designed to help children with autism whose families are facing financial hardship and live in Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa, Tuolumne, or Madera counties. As part of the grant offered by the Carlos Vieira Foundation, qualified families will receive a highly advanced GPS tracking device from MedicAlert, a MedicAlert Essential membership, and a MedicAlert medical ID.
“We’re excited to announce our partnership with the Carlos Vieira Foundation in creating this critical grant for children impacted by autism,” said Karen Lamoree, chief operating officer of MedicAlert Foundation. “This grant was designed to ensure more children with autism have an opportunity to receive MedicAlert’s lifesaving services and products.”
One of the primary concerns parents of children with autism have is wandering, which was the case with 7-year-old Isaac Sprague. On Jan. 1, Isaac wandered away from a family outing. He was found almost seven hours later in a small body of water in a wooded area outside of Hilmar. He was taken to a hospital as a precaution and has since been released.
Isaac does not communicate because of his autism and this added a layer of difficulty in the search, according to law enforcement.
“The chance of a medical emergency is always possible when children wander,” said Lamoree. “That’s why the MedicAlert GPS device is critical — it was created with children’s safety in mind and gives parents peace of mind by allowing them to always know the location of their children.”
The MedicAlert device is about the size of a domino chip and allows parents to always know the location of their children who may tend to wander. The tracking device can be attached to a backpack, worn around a necklace, clipped onto a belt, or placed inside a pocket. Plus, with the added feature of the safety circle, parents can draw boundaries around multiple addresses and receive text and/or email alerts when their child moves outside the perimeter, while still tracking their movements.
Also included, for recipients of the grant, is MedicAlert’s new Universal Black Silicone Medical ID Shoe Tag, designed to be used by emergency personnel to immediately identify the child’s health conditions during an emergency as it is labeled with the word “autism” on the tag’s engraving.
“We are pleased to partner with MedicAlert Foundation,” said Carlos Vieira, president of the Carlos Vieira Foundation. “With this partnership, we are able to reach more families in need of 24/7 support for the ultimate protection of their children with autism.”
Eligibility for the new grant will be for children under 18 who are living in Stanislaus, Merced, Mariposa, Tuolumne, or Madera counties in Northern California. Also, children must have been diagnosed with autism and meet other eligibility requirements.
To apply for the grant, please visit www.medicalert.org/autismgrant.