Just about any parent can attest to the fact that there is nothing scarier than realizing your child has vanished. It’s bad enough when it’s a neurotypical child involved, but when a child is autistic, the situation can be made even more dire. Many individuals with autism struggle to communicate, so even if a Good Samaritan—like a random passerby or even a first responder like a police officer—happens to find them and try to help, they may have difficulty doing so.
Throughout the years, there have been several initiatives taken to help ameliorate this dilemma, from tracking devices to temporary tattoos. Now Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, is taking a new measure to help protect autistic kids: MedicAlert bracelets.
MedicAlert has created a program, called Connect Protect, in order to provide free medical ID bracelets to autistic children, as well as other individuals who may be at risk of wandering. Over 125 kids have already been signed up for the program.
“With that bracelet and that ID number on the back of the bracelet, it’s a valuable resource for us [first responders] which helps us get that information we’re looking for and getting that person home safe,” said Const. Bruce McGregor.
The bracelets will give first responders access to details like emergency contacts, home addresses, and medical information. And these helping hands will be able to learn about the children wearing the bracelets in a matter of seconds.
“It’s the kind of thing that you really hope you never really need to use,” said Ian Macpherson, the father of four-year-old Kai, who has nonverbal autism and was signed up for the program. Nevertheless, it offers peace of mind to parents of children who are prone to wandering.
Edmonton is one of 10 Canadian cities to join in on this program. Hopefully this or something similar will expand to other areas—including the United States—in the future!
To learn how you can help first responders interact safely and effectively with people on the spectrum, see our petition on the next page!
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.