Schumer tells DOJ to fund tracking program of autistic kids

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the Department of Justice to create a voluntary program to track children who have autism or other developmental disorders that “bolt” from their parents.

“The sights and sounds of cities, schools and other busy places can be over-stimulating and distracting for children and teens with autism, often leading to wandering as a way to escape,” Schumer said Monday. “Voluntary tracking devices will help our teachers and parents in the event that the child runs away and, God forbid, goes missing.”

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Schumer said the DOJ already funds a program that provides tracking devices for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, allowing law enforcement to quickly find the missing person. The tracking devices are often clipped to a person’s wrist, belt or shoelaces and are voluntary.

“DOJ already funds these devices for individuals with Alzheimer’s, and they should do the same for children with autism spectrum disorder,” Schumer said. “Funding this program will help put school systems and parents of children and teens with autism at ease knowing where their children are.”

Schumer’s request was prompted by a Queens, N.Y., teen, Avonte Oquendo, who has been missing for four weeks after “bolting” from his school last month.

Schumer said the DOJ should issue grants to local law enforcement agencies that want to provide tracking devices for children with autism because it could save lives.