Friday, January 24, 2014
I'm sure many of you have heard the news by now of 14 year old Avonte Oquendo. Avonte was a young boy with autism who went missing from his Queens, NYC school in early October and a few days ago, his body was discovered in a Queens river.
Y'all know autism has a special place in my heart so news stories like these always make my heart skip a beat. Some children with autism are wanderers, have little to no fear and do not have the ability to make judgement calls or read social cues. All of these things combined with some children not having the ability to communicate has the potential for disastrous consequences such as the one that befell Avonte. But, maybe something could have been done?
When I was teaching students with autism, our local police department partnered with children and families to provide GPS trackers to students. With Project Lifesaver, children wore GPS trackers on their wrists that looked like bracelets. In the event that a child went missing, police would be able to find them quickly. I don't know if a GPS tracker would have saved Avonte's life, but it's certainly time to bring the discussion to the forefront.