Resources for safeguards in the community
We are advocates for appropriate safety supports as an essential part of increased independence in the community for individuals with developmental disabilities.
There are many resources available for families who wish to strengthen safety safeguards for a family member traveling in the community with or without supervision. Issues addressed are as varied as fear of a family member wandering away to encouraging more independent participation in community based transportation, leisure, shopping, volunteer, and employment opportunities. The list below provides examples of resources that might help families in ensuring safety in the community while addressing related concerns and hopes. Current prices and specifications for product examples can be found at the websites listed. For the 2016 status of proposed congressional legislation aimed at funding protections against wandering by vulnerable Americans, see the 2016 Kevin and Avonte’s Law: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s2614/text
Arc of Westchester is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of the following linked sites. These links are provided for your convenience only and you access them at your own risk.
- Assessment and Personal Training Tools
- Find Me Tools - Phone Active Tracking
- Find Me Tools - Wearable GPS Devices
- Other Find Me Tools
- First Responder Training
- Other General Websites/Articles of Interest
Can Plan – (2016 Update). Available free for Iphone, Ipad, and Ipod. At the March 2016 Tech Supports Conference sponsored by the Arc of Westchester and Mercy College, presenters from both Mercy College and Virginia Commonwealth University showed the usefulness of this app in their efforts to increase independence for persons with a developmental disability. See Highlights from 2016 Conference
Family Member: Community-based Skills Assessment (CSA): Developing a Personalized Transition Plan from Autism Speaks - In order to adequately plan for safety in the community, the first step is to assess the family member's current skills as it relates to independently travel in the community and to communicate essential information if lost or in some other crisis situation. A recommended next step is the development of a family specific emergency wandering plan that contains a list of what to do in the event of wandering. For an example of such a plan see: http://awaare.nationalautismassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/FWEP.pdf
The Westchester County Travel Training Program: Training is on a one to one basis and is specifically designed for each individual using a four-phase plan. This approach consists of modeling, prompting, fading and shadowing techniques.For individuals assessed as candidates for independent travel, a travel training plan is the next step. For a youtube video on recommended steps in such training Click Here
The Smart Steps® Mobile app - Free mobile phone app for personal problem solving at home, at school or in the community. Allows app user to get help independently as a first layer of support. The Help Button can be used at any time. Available for Apple and Android phones.
- LIFE 360- (2016 Update) Free app for GPS tracking through smartphones. Unlike Apple and Android apps below, this free app can be used by an Apple User to track an Android User and vice versa.
SMARTPHONE: eg Apple: ” Find My Phone”; Android-Google: “Family Locator”
Kajeet - Special Teenager Phone - KAJEET calls itself “The Smartphone for Kids”. It offers strong parental controls at a reasonable price for both the phone itself and a phone service contract. It’s carrier is SPRINT. It provides a GPS signal for tracking the phone. It offers both smartphones and flip phones. It has been tested by an Arc of Westchester staff who judged it to be a good option for GPS tracking for young adults. For a thorough review of KAJEET, Click Here.
- ANGELSENSE (2016 Update): GPS Tracker can be used in wearable mode by itself or with clothing designed specifically for children/adults with autism designed by Independence Day Clothing.
- Pocket Finder - Portable, Wearable
- AT&T Flip 2 Watch - A smart GPS locator watch with voice for kids ages 4 to 11. includes Apple or Android App - Requires participation in an AT&T Mobile Share Plan.
- Independence Day Clothing - Wearable -Clothing designed for young adults with autism. An insertable GPS tracker is optional.
- SMART SOLES: Wearable - GPS enabled insoles allowing for tracking location of wearer by smartphone or computer. Independent reviews of this relatively new product are difficult to find, In 2015 it was approved for reimbursement in California by Medi-Cal. Click here For YOUTUBE presentations of GPS Smart Soles - Click Here and Click Here
- Project Lifesaver- A national program which can track persons of at-risk of wandering by attaching a radio transmitter to their wrist or ankle by way of a plastic or nylon wristband. The battery operated transmitter emits a signal, that can be picked up by a receiver operated by trained and certified public safety officers. In Westchester County this program is available through Westchester County's Department of Community Mental Health. Click Here
- Laminated ID Tools:A basic but essential safety safeguard. Find them at Staples or Office Depot
- If I Need Help - Alerts people to the need for assistance through wearable labels, tags, pins that provide Emergency info accessed manually or via smart phone scanning of a personal QR code. Information can be updated in real time (e.g. current location of family member). A QR Code is a readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone.
- Pleasantville Special Education Teachers Association (SEPTA) “VIP FIND ME”
- MCAlert.net - A cloud-based communications platform used by communities to send emergency and informational alerts to all or targeted residents. Thousands of text message and email alerts can be sent in seconds, using MCA’s photo and video attachment feature to enhance the effectiveness of alerts. Alerts can be targeted to specific persons. e.g. transportation ion providers. In this system an at risk family member can be preregistered as can persons to receive an alert regarding this person.The Town of Harrison, NY Police currently has a project using this system. (Contact Person: Chief Robrert Marraccini: (914)967-5111) Sign Up Here
- Door Alarms:Although not strictly speaking a Find Me Tool, a Door and Window Alarms System is utilized by some families as a first line of protection for their family member. An example of such a system is the “Simpli Safe Home Security System”. For a 2013 review of this system compared to similar systems, Click Here.
- Westchester DCMH - In cooperation with the White Plains Police Department, DCMH provides Crisis Intervention training for law enforcement personnel in Westchester County. This training's primary focus is on intervention with persons with a mental health disability.
- Niagara University - Disability Awareness Training for First Responders. This training addresses interaction skills for law enforcement and other first responders in encountering individuals with disabilities, challenges faced and how to overcome them, federal/state guidelines and supports provided, victimization, identifying and working with service providers, Training can be requested for any region of New York. Such training was provided to Emergency Management Personnel in Westchester County on July 23, 2015.
- Autism Risk & Safety Management - A national resource for autism training for law enforcement and emergency responders. Description of course is offered and currently scheduled training is located on this site.
- 2016 Personal GPS Reviews - These 2016 reviews rate personal GPS Tracking Devices by product price, contract price, battery life, update interval, tracking software. etc.Click Here and also Click Here.
- AWARRE Collaboration - This site is specifically dedicated to prevent wandering incidents and deaths within the autism community.
- TECH TOOLBOX - The Arc's Tech Toolbox is a place to find, share, rate and review technology for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. This is a new site and is still being developed.
“GPS TRACKING DEVICES for KIDS WITH AUTISM” This 2014 article argues that instructions using visual aids about the limits of acceptable geographical boundaries is equally as important as the use of a GPS tracking device for ensuring the safety of a child or adult with autism.
“NEARLY HALF OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM WANDER FROM SAFETY”. This 2012 article summarizes a study from the journal, PEDIATRICS on the prevalence of wandering among children with autism. In addition to providing data from the study, the point is made that the term “wandering” is a misnomer since in most cases the person is purposefully intending to get away or to go somewhere. Pediatrician Paul Law, senior author of the study and director of the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) Project emphasizes in a 2013 webinar that the life-threatening nature of such activity makes this not only a family but a community issue. Click Here