KOKOMO, Ind. (WLFI) — Members of the Autism Resource Center of Kokomo are hopeful bringing in new technology will help track those at risk of wandering away.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism.
For Clinton and Angela Paul, they are no strangers to some of the hurdles the diagnosis can bring.
“Our youngest son was diagnosed nine years ago, and then that’s when there was just not a whole lot of resources or even a lot of information about autism,” Angela Paul said.
Clinton Paul added, “Nobody gives you a handbook for all of these extra challenges you might have to go through.”
The Pauls are on the board of directors for the Autism Resource Center of Kokomo. The center works to provide support for families dealing with the developmental disorder.
According to Clinton Paul, half of children diagnosed with autism have a tendency to wander. But in the worst case a child does wander off, there is technology that could help bring him or her home quicker.
Along with several others, the Pauls have been working on a project to bring that technology to Howard County.
“This is an idea that we’ve had for quite some time,” Clinton Paul said. “And we went through different debates with different kinds of technology and different systems, and a lot of times we just didn’t have the funds.”
After fundraising relentlessly for more than a year, the center was able to raise $7,500 to help purchase the initial equipment.
Just recently, a check was presented to the Howard County Sheriff’s Office where it will be used to train officers on how to use the tracking system. The sheriff’s office received the equipment a few weeks ago which was followed by a training session at Highland Park.
“It allows them to find them much, much quicker. The statistics that we have are about 95 percent faster, than if they would just not having to form a search party and kinda combing the area,” Clinton Paul said.
The trackers come in the form of a bracelet that sends out a signal to local law enforcement if a child goes missing.
Clinton Paul said the startup equipment, which included just a few bracelets, costs $5,000 alone.
Each additional bracelet costs around $300 and through additional fundraising, the ultimate goal is to offer them to families at no charge.
“We could go years without you ever needing it. But that one time, that one family that their child walks out in the middle of winter with no shoes on and an inability to speak, and all of a sudden in three minutes they’re in a corn field and then panic sets in. If we could prevent one of those occurrences from happening, then it will all be worth it,” said Clinton Paul.
Applications are currently being accepted for families interested in getting a bracelet.
If you’d like more information, you can visit the center’s website.