Schumer to propose "Avonte's Law" to protect autistic children
Sunday, January 26, 2014
NEW YORK (WABC) -- It is something Michael Rosen, the Executive Director of Autism Speaks has lost sleep about - his son Nicky is autistic and non-verbal. When Nicky was little, he wandered. Rosen says he once found Nicky on a neighbor's roof.
"Eventually we had to put locks on top of doors, and that's how people with autism live," says Rosen, "you can't turn your back for one second."
This was a tough thing for Vanessa Fontaine to hear - her son, Avonte Oquendo also wandered. On Saturday, Fontaine buried her 14-year-old.
On Sunday, still too upset to speak, Fontaine did throw her support behind an idea that could have saved her child.
Senator Charles Schumer calls it "Avonte's Law" - a high tech solution to an age-old problem. The law uses tracking devices for kids like Avonte.
"We know how to do it, we've seen it done - it works," says Senator Schumer.
After Avonte disappeared, volunteers spent months searching for the teen, whose remains were just recently discovered along the banks of the East River.
Schumer says under this new program, police would track kids. It is modeled after a similar federal program that now tracks those suffering with Alzheimer's.
"The only barrier is the funding," adds Senator Schumer, "the devices themselves cost about 80 or 90 dollars, and then it costs only a few dollars a month to do the monitoring."
As for the actual tracking device, it could be worn as a wristband, clipped onto a child's belt loops, put in shoelaces, or sown into clothing.
In Avonte's case, time was of the essence. Experts say using these devices saves precious minutes, and reduces the amount of time it takes to find a child by 95 percent.