By Tami Vigilante
My life revolves around my two children.
Like most mothers, my day starts by getting them out of bed, making sure they eat breakfast and then driving both to school – hopefully on time so they are not late for their first class. After school, the daily tasks usually consist of getting Dayne to his flag-football practice or Tatum to her dance class while balancing time with their friends and making sure homework is done. And on the weekends, along with my husband Tom, we all spend time as a family doing various activities.
Knowing how much my children are a part of my life, it broke my heart to read an Arizona Republic article earlier this summer of how a mother lost her 9-year-old boy in Mesa, Arizona. Her son, Au-Juna, was struck and killed by a truck after wandering out on the freeway.
Two hours before being killed, Au-Juna was with his two brothers and sister having fun playing in the neighborhood. When Au-Juna didn’t return with his siblings to their Mesa apartment, their aunt, who was babysitting at the time, alerted the police he was missing. Mesa police spent an hour trying to locate Au-Juna until receiving a 911 call that a child was struck and killed on the U.S. 60 freeway – five miles from his apartment.
Au-Juna had wandered away because he was autistic.
Children with autism suffer from a developmental disorder that affects their social interactions, language and behavior, causing some to wander without a typical person’s sense of fear or danger. Parents must have an aura of constant vigilance to stay a step ahead of their autistic child. That is why in 2011, “autism wandering” became an official diagnosis in the United States with its own medical code.
That hour police and Au-Juna’s family spent franticly looking for him could have had a more pleasant outcome if they had an option of locating him with a GPS device. Those options are now available for parents to locate their autistic children.
Although our company, Centralized Vision, specializes in real-time video verification services to prevent theft and vandalism, we also offer various GPS monitoring devices that could quickly locate children with autism after wandering away from their home. Along with our partners at Adiant Solutions, we offer GPS devices that could be used as a keychain, worn as a pendant or bracelet or clipped to a belt. The same devices are also being used by seniors diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, so they can be located after wandering away from their loved ones or assisted-living facilities.
Our safety-certified operators that man our call center at Centralized Vision 24 hours a day are trained to quickly locate a person wearing a GPS device. The operators are also well-versed in communicating with local law enforcement or medical personnel to quickly administer any emergency.
The GPS devices are affordable with annual or monthly service plans to give anyone associated with an autistic child peace of mind if an emergency would occur.
A parent, teacher or care giver still can’t predict when an autistic child may elope. But if a child wanders on their own, now there are options to quickly locate them while being returned to a safe environment. And hopefully a number of situations like the unfortunate one that took Au-Juna’s life can be prevented.
That’s all a mother can ask.
Tami Vigilante is Executive Vice President & Co-Founder at Centralized Vision. For more information on real-time video verification services or GPS monitoring, go to centralizedvision.com or call 855-888-8094.