GPS tracking for Autistic children

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - GPS monitoring will soon be available as a safeguard for more children with Autism. The electronic tracking devices will now be federally funded. South Florida parents with children on the Autism spectrum believe the move will save lives.

Losing a child is a fear of any parent. For Wellington's Candi Spitz and her twin boys, both with autism, that nightmare is often far to close to reality. "You have to have some kind of means to make sure that your children are okay," said Spitz.

Now, Spitz' kids, and all children with Autism, have a new safeguard on the way. GPS tracking devices will now be funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. "This is something so important to us," said Spitz. "This is something so necessary."

Children with Autism are at a much greater risk for wandering or fleeing from their caregivers. Many who flee are often drawn to water. New York City teenager Avonte Oquendo, who had Autism, disappeared from his school in October. His remains were later discovered in the East River.

"Look at Avonte," said Spitz. "This could have been prevented had he had a bracelet."

Spitz is still trying to figure out which GPS device will work best for her boys. The devices can be worn as wristbands, tied to shoelaces or sewn into clothing. Basic models cost about $85, plus monthly fees.

The federal dollars will help cover the cost for many children who are faced with such unique and potentially dangerous challenges. "This takes the burden off our family," said Spitz. "For us to know that our child is safe and protected, it's the best thing that we can imagine."

Existing grant funds will be used for the voluntary GPS devices. The computer-program alert system will resemble one already in place to track those with Alzheimer's Disease.

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