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MedicAlert’s FREE Found for Autism® Program Helps Bring Matthew Safely Home after Wandering

Although he was diagnosed with autism at a very young age, 20-year old Matthew didn’t have a wandering incident until he became a teenager. After first wandering from his high school campus and a few months later, leaving the house in the middle of the night, Matthew’s mother Bonnie decided it was time to enroll him in MedicAlert.

These wandering incidents have become all-too-familiar for Bonnie as he has wandered/eloped multiple times during the past three years, with an especially terrifying incident on July 30, 2016. “We have relied on MedicAlert many times to help bring Matthew home safely after he’s wandered, but when he left during the night last summer, he was gone for a much longer period of time and had ended up further away from home than ever before. If not for MedicAlert, I don’t know what would have happened to my son.”

According to Bonnie, Matthew typically wanders anytime they are on a break from school when he isn’t continuously in a structured environment. Since his brother Nicholas had taken him for long walks during the day over summer break, they haven’t had any issues with Matthew wandering. However, on the morning of July 30th Bonnie awoke around 4am, and Matthew was not in his bed. Upon realizing Matthew had wandered once again, her first call was to local law enforcement and then MedicAlert. When the MedicAlert Emergency Response Specialist answered, Bonnie was understandably in alarm. MedicAlert confirmed what Matthew was last wearing and when he was last seen to ensure these exact details and related information about Matthew were sent to Los Angeles County law enforcement.

Hours later, a California Highway Patrol officer called into MedicAlert. He was sitting with Matthew who had been located wandering northbound on Interstate 110, near the Pacific Coast Highway intersection. The officer immediately noticed Matthew’s bracelet which read Autism-Nonverbal. MedicAlert’s Emergency Response Specialist provided the officer with Matthew’s critical health information, confirmed their location and then brought Bonnie, Matthew’s mother, onto the line for a three-way call. The officer communicated to Bonnie that he was concerned for Matthew’s health as he seemed dehydrated. The officer had requested for paramedic assistance on-scene, and told Bonnie that Matthew was being transferred to a local hospital facility. Bonnie was extremely grateful for the attention given to Matthew and was able to quickly reunite with him at the hospital.

“The best decision I ever made to help give me peace of mind when Matthew wanders was getting his MedicAlert bracelet. Everyone is always so helpful, and I know law enforcement and MedicAlert will help bring him back to us unharmed.” 

MedicAlert Team Member