Avonte’s Law - Autism Tracking Device Proposal


About one year ago, Senator Chuck Schumer from New York was involved with the family of Avonte Oquendo, a 14 year-old boy with autism that ran away from school and was missing for months prior to his remains being found.  After that, Senator Schumer proposed legislation called Avonte's Law which would establish and fund a federal program to provide electronic tracking devices to families of kids with developmental disorders who are at risk of wandering.

If approved, $10 million would be allocated to the Department of Justice for the purpose of funding tracking devices for eligible families that request one.  Local law enforcement agencies would then distribute the tracking devices.  The devices would be monitored by a company who could pinpoint a child's location when he/she is reported missing.  The tracking devices would be attached to clothing.

What do you think of this law?  If you were the parent of a child with autism that had tendencies to 'wander,' would you take advantage of using such a tracking device?   Please share your thoughts.


Rochelle Kenyon, SME





Absolutely, Rochelle. I wished such a device were around when my son was young. He has autism and at a very young age had an almost magnetic affinity for the highway and high places. I would go on every school field trip with him, not only because I believe in being an involved parent. I was the only one who could devote 100% of my time to monitoring his movements and catching him when he would make a run for the road. My experience as a parent of a child with autism was frightening for his whereabouts. Thankfully he has grown out of this wandering behavior and is a promising young man with a blackbelt in karate and on track in his high school criminal justice path. It breaks my heart to hear about Avonte's story. But something very good can come from this that will protect children with severe disorders.

Jackie Taylor, SME

Evidence-based Professional Development CoP

Hi Jackie,

Thanks so much for your personal response.  You bring a frame of reference to this issue that most of us don't have.  I will be interested to watch how this proposed law makes its way through the legislative system.  

If anyone hears about Avonte's Law, please post a message in this discussion thread to report on the progress.

Thank you.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME


Hi, Rochelle -

Thanks for highlighting this issue.  I think it's a fascinating question to raise, and one that's likely to solicit very different responses from individuals.  I think the idea is a good one, which many families will benefit from, but I also have concerns based on my experience working with adolescents on the spectrum.  The fact that the devices will be worn on the individual's clothing make me question whether they will be able to prevent incidents like the one in New York. 

I wonder if something like a free phone App would be an option instead - especially for older students and/or higher function students? This would minimize the chances of it being lost, or left in a coat pocket, and not worn by a student when it's most needed.  My other concern is whether students who are dually diagnosed with mental health issues may be adversely affected by this type of monitoring, as it could easily play into feelings of paranoia.  In these cases, I think the pros and cons would have to be weighed by the individual and their care team to make the best choice. 

Ultimately, I think the decision whether to use this type of tracking device - as it's currently planned - should be considered alongside of other Assistive Technology (AT) that will support students on the spectrum in learning to monitor and evaluate their surroundings, and increase communication with their families and care team.

Again, great topic for discussion!


Hello Michael,

Welcome to this discussion.  You brought up some interesting points about the actual tracking device.  If the law passes and it is funded, possibly  a variety of different tracking options will be explored.  I can think of positives and negatives of phone apps, a wearable tracking device, and other options.  I think the person's disability and the severity of it would also affect what might work best.   Your point of dual diagnosis with mental health problems as well as other disabilities would also complicate the issue.

Thanks for posting your interesting message and furthering this discussion.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME


Hi all,

I did some additional research on the topic of tracking devices.  I will share part of what I have found.  I have no experience with any of these products nor do I know of any families who have tried them; so I am not endorsing them in any way.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME


My Locator  - a short range locator device that is a credit card size transmitter and key chain  Cost: $20.00 http://www.nationalemergencyid.com/products.php?item=51     Track Me360  - for temporary use such as camping or traveling Cost: Rent or buy.
http://www.trackme360.com/index.php     Tattoos with a Purpose  -  temporary ID messages Cost: $9.99 /pk of 6
http://www.tattooswithapurpose.com     SmartICE  -  stores medical and emergency information Cost: $.99.00
http://www.ems-options.com/Products/smartICE.aspx     Shoe ID  -  a strap with laser-engraved ID tag for running, walking, or cycling
Cost: $20.00 http://www.roadid.com/Common/catalog.aspx?C=RoadID#3     SecuraTrac  -  transmitter device placed in pocket or backpack that allows real time tracking Cost: Buy: $157.88 plus $18.88 monthly service fee.
Rent: $19.99 plus $9.99 per day. http://www.securatrac.com/landing/kids_landing.php?gclid=CM6mhciF9aYCFY64KgodYUUzCA     SafetyNet by LoJack  -  transmitter band worn around wrist or ankle.  Local police track bands unique radio frequency to locate missing person
Cost: $99.00 +$10.00 shipping for band; $30.00 monthly service fee. http://www.lojack.com/safetynet/     S-911 Bracelet by Adiant-Solutions   -  assisted GPS bracelet provides two-way communication, real-time tracking, fall sensor, geo-fencing, auto calling of emergency contacts Cost: $495.00 (device) and $59.95 per month service fee
http://www.adiant-solutions.com     Locators (Brickhouse)  -  short range locators up to 150 feet away
Cost: Varies https://www.brickhousesecurity.com     Loc8or  -   remote device with LCD screen locates personal property, pets and children.  Maximum range is 600 feet. Cost: $169.95 http://childlocator.com     Emergency Panic Button Alert   -   emergency button to alert family that one is in trouble Cost: $2.71 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.incorporateapps.emergency     Child ID Bracelet  -   velcro bracelet discreetly stores ID and important information Cost: $11.99 to $13.99  http://www.mypreciouskid.com/child-id-bracelet.html      

Hi group members,

I received an email message from someone that wanted to share on this topic, but not post.  She wrote the following:
  My husband has Alzheimer's Disease.  He has had it for 2-3 years.  We still try to continue activities we used to enjoy including taking cruises.  We just got back from a 9-day cruise.  It was the worst experience we have ever had.  Even in a fairly small space as the dining room, if he left the table for a short trip to get ice cream or iced tea, he got lost.  I had to enlist the help of people at our table and the ship's staff to locate him.  I read the tracking device message you posted and wanted you to know that for a spouse with Alzheimer's Disease and other memory problems, this would be a wonderful benefit.  Thank you for posting this message.  I am going to look into the possibility of locating something like this the next time we go on a cruise.

I found her message so very timely. Because of that,  I want to open this discussion to all disabilities affected by memory disorders.

Also, has anyone used a tracking devices with children or adults?  Certainly there are microchips, battery powered and GPS tracker options for pets.

If you have experience on this topic, please share it with us by replying to this message.


Rochelle Kenyon, SME


Rochelle and All,

I think this would be very helpful for parents whose children wander, and also for those who care for older adults with alzheimer's or dementia. My son, who is non-verbal, has a tendency to "escape" and wander away, and I would be very interested in having a device like this! I agree with Michael, however, that attaching something to clothing would not be the best mechanism. People who wander do not always dress before doing so! 

I also think that some kind of government policy--whether attached to a device like this or not--would be a good idea. At the very least, there should be programs that connect local police and hospitals to a registry of families who have a wanderer, with ID pictures and contact information. But yes, an actual tracker would be really nice to have!

Thanks for telling us about this law!


Hi Julie,

You raised a good point in your message.  No only are tracking devices good for people that have memory problems and dementia, but also for those that wander off as Jackie mentioned too,  I see some states following through on other related legislation.

Your suggestion of something that connects local police and hospitals to a registry of families who have a wanderer by matching ID pictures and contact information seems like such a viable one.  Does anyone know whether something like this exists in any state?

Thanks for your valuable contribution.

Rochelle Kenyon, SME



Hi again Julie and members,

I was so interested in Julie's suggestion that I did some research on the idea.  Here is what I found:

Project Lifesaver International is a not for profit organization.  It provides services throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Project Lifesaver works in collaboration with local police and first responders.  On their website, it shows that they rescued 2,100 individuals since 1999.  If the program is available in the local area where one resides, an enrollment request may be submitted. Children or adults needing to be monitored wear a transmitter around their wrist or ankle. If a person wanders, the parent or caregiver notifies local Project Lifesaver agency to activate transmitter and initiate a search.
For more information, go to http://www.projectlifesaver.org/ .

Cost: Varies depending upon local agency participation


You can watch an informational video at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2uPG_h7z0I/  .

Do any of our members know of another such service?  If so, please share with us.


Rochelle Kenyon, SME