MedicAlert Foundation’s FREE Found for Autism® Program Now Featured in NAA’s Big Red Safety Box
Nonprofit provides free medical IDs and 24/7 wandering support service to children and adults with autism
(SALIDA, Calif., April 11, 2017) – MedicAlert Foundation has partnered with the National Autism Association to feature its free Found for Autism program in NAA’s Big Red Safety Box, a free-of-charge toolkit given to autism families in need as a means to educate, raise awareness and share simple tools that may assist them in preventing, and responding to, wandering-related emergencies. The Found for Autism program provides an additional layer of protection for the autism community during wandering emergencies and is being offered to families at no cost when they enroll loved ones online thanks to the Northwestern Mutual Insurance Endowment Fund. Online enrollees will receive a MedicAlert medical ID bracelet or necklace, MedicAlert shoe tag, and 24/7 wandering support service.
In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, wandering was ranked among the most stressful behaviors by fifty-eight percent of parents. To combat the fear and anxiety families experience, MedicAlert Foundation medical IDs are supported by a live 24/7 emergency support network which coordinates with family and local law enforcement during a wandering incident to provide assistive services. “MedicAlert’s medical IDs and 24/7 services are critical to a family’s overall safety plan,” states Wendy Fournier, President of the National Autism Association. “Parents who are overwhelmed by the fear of a wandering incident truly appreciate the additional protection that MedicAlert provides as their 24/7 services have proven time and time again to save lives during wandering emergencies. There is no single solution to autism-related wandering, but this certainly helps.”
50% of all individuals with autism will wander or elope – this is a frightening statistic and one that is all-too-familiar for Bonnie Sayers who’s 20 year-old son Matthew 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.”
Families are encouraged to enroll their loved ones in the MedicAlert Found for Autism program to ensure they are protected during wandering emergencies. Families may select their free medical IDs and register their loved ones at www.medicalert.org/autism.