Thursday, June 16, 2005

Technology helps saves child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A Kalamazoo County family is thankful for 21st Century technology. A simple transmitter helped them find their seven-year-old son, who is autistic, after he disappeared.
Dante Jeffries is full of energy, always going this way and that. "You just never know what he would be doing, 'cause his mind just goes," said Angie Jeffries, Dante's mother. Dante's mom and dad can never turn their back on him, fearful he might disappear, just like he did late Tuesday afternoon.
"He just got out through the patio door and he was just gone," said Chris Jeffries, Dante's father.
The child's family had no idea where he had gone.
Dante has disappeared before, and then it took hours to find him. On Tuesday, it was a little different, because he was wearing a special wristband called Project Lifesaver. It broadcasts a special signal that can be tracked by police.
"It's a time saver, it's a money saver, it's cost efficient in every way imaginable," said Lt. Wally Kipp of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department.
The Autism Society of Kalamazoo/Battle Creek started the program last fall. Since then, $30,000 have been raised and 11 kids and one adult are wearing a wristband.
"Across the country Project Lifesaver has a 100-percent success rate. They have successfully recovered every lost person that they have looked for, and the average response time, average recovery time, is 22 minutes nationwide," said Beverly Bishop of the Autism Society of Kalamazoo/Battle Creek.
Three police officers went on the search for Dante. The signal tracked him to an empty house down the street. They peeked in the window, and 25 minutes after he went missing, they saw Dante's little feet poking from a bed. "He just went inside and sort of made himself at home. He found some candy to eat, he was watching cartoons," said Chris Jeffries.
The Autism Society of Kalamazoo/Battle Creek says the wristbands are not just for kids with autism, but also for the elderly or Alzheimer's disease patients.