By Natasha Barber
Sometimes even hour to hour! Wandering and eloping can be because the child is over stimulated, because they don’t want to do a given task or simply just because they want to go after something they desire. Either way this behavior is dangerous and frightening.
My son Joshua lacks the understanding of what can hurt him such as traffic and water dangers. Joshua has either eloped due to frustration or wandered to see something he wants and has absolutely no fear. He doesn’t understand stranger danger and certainly doesn’t comprehend the reason you need to stop and look both ways before crossing a road. Combined with his lack of ability to communicate, Joshua is at risk of being injured or killed if he wanders away from a safe environment.
Knowing Joshua’s challenges with communication and no-fear, we have implemented many safety solutions to help either prevent wandering or help others identify Joshua if he did wander. We have invested in an Angel Sense GPS for Joshua. The GPS has been a huge peace of mind for us knowing if Joshua were to ever get lost we can find him within minutes using the phone app. I strongly encourage all parents who have a child that is non-verbal and has wandering tendencies to invest in a GPS for their loved one. The second solution for Joshua since he is non-verbal was purchasing Child Identification. I found If I Need Help’s shoe tags and Child ID cards and instantly bought them. I absolutely love these products because not only are they customizable but they are made out of aluminum so they are super durable. I have shoe tags on all of Joshua’s shoes and boots as well as child ID cards tie-wrapped to his coat, pack-pack and lunch-box!!
Helping me grow and learn and it is because of him I have a passion for safety. I created Autism Moms Know Safety, a non-profit organization to educate and help raise awareness to parents on Autism Safety. It was because of all of Joshua’s safety challenges and hard work we have had to do to ensure his safety, I realized I probably wasn’t alone. Other families were most likely experiencing the same challenges on how to keep their loved ones safe. Autism Moms Know Safety is committed to Autism safety awareness and ensuring caregivers are educated on different options and resources available to them.
Autism Moms Know Safety has currently partnered with these two amazing companies that have helped keep her son safe to contribute to a new free of charge AMKS Safety &Resource safety kits. Angel Sense GPS and If I Need Help contribute to each kit with coupons and samples. For your free tool-kit, you can apply online at www.autismmomsknowsafety.com
Many of our many products and features here at If I Need Help have been created from hearing another parents’ needs and suggestions. Bruce, my husband and non profit co-founder, was told by one of our members that Neighbor Alerts are needed to inform the neighbors about the families special needs and how to contact them incase their child wandered out. We agreed and added Neighbor alert to our list of free services that come with an If I Need Help membership. It is found in your My Account settings (First do the Free Sign Up if you are not already a member) then create and print the Neighbor alert. Next determine who are the eyes in your neighborhood that could help your loved one? joggers? dog walkers? mail carriers? delivery persons? bus drivers? store managers? And which of these people are trustworthy? That you feel safe having your phone number and knowing that your Loved One has Special Needs.
I decided to present our neighbor alert to the young family that just moved in next door. I learned two very important things. First my new neighbor is a caring and kind person. I walked over with my 16 year old son Jay who has Autism and explained that if he is ever alone or in danger please call me. The man listened, read over the alert then reach his hand out to meet Jay and shake his hand while saying “It is great to meet you”. Next he folded the paper to put in his pocket because I caught him while doing yard work. So I thought about this. Where is this paper going to end up? Joggers/dog walkers will not be carrying it with them daily but everyone always has a cell phone with them. So we are adding default text to please add my contact info to your cell phone contacts. This way they will not even have to dial the number if an emergency happens, they can just click on the number.
A while back the Emergency Q&A was created when we heard that during a crisis some parents are too upset and scared to answer the critical missing/medical emergency questions that a police officer would ask. During a calm moment these can be answered, printed out and kept in purse/car/house ready for an emergency. It can also be emailed during an emergency to first responders.
You are welcome to visit your local police station and bring the neighbor alert and Emergency Q&A so they know about your Loved One with Special Needs and can tell their officers what to expect. A lost person is often taken to the police when found. Then the police need to find out who that person is. This past weekend a police dept. near us had posted a picture of a young man with Autism. He was found wandering in traffic! After many people commented it was learned that he lives in a nearby group home. Police having your info on record before hand, can decrease confusion and time wasted trying to determining who this is and how to help them.
We spent last year training 1400 Southern California Highway Patrol officers about Autism. How to identify people with Autism and best practices to keep encounters calm. We felt most of them have limited encounters with people who have special needs but wanted to know and understand more. Whenever I see an officer I have Jay shake hands and say Hi. It is important for them to see our children and important for our children to feel like they can approach an Officer and ask for help.
I have been a massage therapist the past 20 years with no experience in product development or printing. So this adventure has been quite a process of learning for this 40 something year old. We began with direct to garment printing of the codes to shirts and learned those could fade. Then we learned of a way to make patches. This is the main item we use for Jay. He has a patch sewn to all his shirts. Then people would say they like shoe tags or what about an iD card or temporary tattoo or bracelet? So we have added these and many more ways to wear or carry personal info. All have a personal QR Code which links to the live profile which has a picture, contacts and additional info. It can be updated in real time. For example when Jay goes on a field trip with school I will add his Aide’s number and then delete it when he safely returns home.
We recommend people only put information you would want a finder to know about your loved one in the profile. The Emergency Question and Answer section will not be seen when scanned. It is the recommended place for confidential information.
Please visit IfiNeedHelp.org and use these free features inspired by parents’ needs.
You don’t realize how much words matter until someone says something that matters to you. One of my family members made a joke about Special Olympics. I realize this is a cultural thing people joke about, not meaning to ridicule but it is hurtful to me. Words matter! My son has Autism, is a wandering risk, can be a danger to himself, and has been a Special Olympics athlete for 8 years now. I find the coaches to be compassionate, committed and caring. The athletes all participate to the best of their abilities with pride and joy. A Special Olympics team is a very different environment than other sports games because everyone is supportive and roots for each other. There is no fierce competition. It actually took me a while to adapt to the mindset of a team without a competitive push. These athletes deserve the same as all other athletes. They should not be made fun of, but praised for all they are achieving. I know and understand the obstacles they need to overcome are much greater, than the challenges of most other athletes.
I am his voice. When I hear words like stupid or retarded in peoples’ regular conversations it hurts. I know they are culturally accepted words, and that they are not directly insulting my son, but it hurts anyway. Our culture needs to change and make our language more respectful to people of all abilities. I truly believe that the greatness of a society can be judged on how it treats and cares for our most vulnerable citizens. They are people with feelings and dreams just like you and I. As a culture our everyday language should not ridicule and demean but support all athletes for each of their achievements. Our words really matter because they define our reality and opinions.
Erin Wilson is a Special Needs Mom whose son was lost in the past without the ability to ask for help or provide personal information on his own. Her solution was to create a non-profit, If I Need Help, offering a wearable iD and a special needs registry. Learn how this wearable iD is different from those you have seen before.
Our system is completely caregiver controlled. The caregiver creates the profile and special needs registry and can edit whenever necessary. Also, many families are on a budget so our membership is completely free and the products are very affordable.
I always start with my son’s needs in mind because he is my center and heart. Due to significant sensory needs he will not tolerate wearing a bracelet. He does keep his shirt on so we have the patches sewn to all his shirts. Many of the other products were developed from the feedback of the community. Such as the custom iD card for people who do not need the code that links to the profile to be seen all the time but available in an emergency.
The custom shoe tags get the most orders. People really like those. Some parents have said my child will not keep shirts and shoes on. So we came up with custom temporary tattoos. We also have safety alerts on window clings, bumper stickers, magnets and keychains. We try to have something for everyone. Our newest product is a pouch with the iD card info on it that medicine can be carried in. With the free membership you can print out your own code so I get contacted by people of unique ways they are using it to meet their needs.
The original idea was for when someone lost the patch, shoe tag or other item gives notice that this is a person who needs help and then provides the information on how to help. Now this has expanded out to helping people who may just need help during a critical situation such as Epilepsy, mental illness, allergies, asthma, and more. The profiles explain how to assist them.
When my son was included on the 6th grade field trip I edited his profile to include his one-on-one aide as his contact in case he ran from her at the museum. I was nervous about him darting into another room and getting out of sight. So it can have the contacts changed in real-time along with the additional information section as behaviors and symptoms change. Also, many of our members are children so their pictures need updating as they grow. One Mom told me when they go to an amusement park she takes his picture and edits it into the profile so in case he gets lost then she knows exactly what he is wearing and can show the picture with profile.
I gifted some patches, pins and clips to a special ed teacher and she started crying and hugging me. She said she wants to take the kids on field trips but has real fear of losing them and now this helps her feel better about it. Another time I sent patches to a special needs girl scout troop in the Bronx where the parents were afraid for the troop to do outings. The troop leader presented to the parents how the patch works and she was given permission to take the troop out into the community. Another member, a wonderful older woman in Florida ordered a keychain. She was afraid to leave her house because she thought she may fall. She said she is getting out more because she feels safer carrying her info.
Everyone is unique and that is why we have tried to create a variety of products. My son needs his code to be very obvious because he needs 24-hour care. For people who are independent and only need it to be seen in an emergency we offer the iD cards, keychains and dog tags.
Autism is a neurological disorder and people with Autism often have normal or even high IQs.
If I Need Help offers a way to wear iD and information. Elderly people often have more extensive medical info such as medications to list in the profile. People who have dementia or Alzheimer’s who need memory care help do wander frequently. Many are then unable to find their way back or provide their contact info on their own.
Our custom products of patches, keychains, shoe tags and bracelet have 2 lines above the code and one below to enter what the caregiver wants on those lines. Most often they put the person’s name, contact number on the second line then the diagnosis at the bottom. Then the code is there linking to the profile. We also offer a free special needs registry. The caregiver answers as much as they want about the medical, communication and behavioral info. There are questions like when leaving the house does he usually turn left or right? Can he swim? Where would he go or not go? And more. These are the questions a first responder would ask during a critical missing. It is better to answer these while calm and have a clear mind then when in a panic situation. This can be printed out and kept in house/car/purse or emailed to the first responder during the crisis.
Knowledge is power. This will provide the first responder with what the needs are of your loved one immediately.
I strongly believe in inclusion of people of all ages and abilities. This gives peace of mind to go out into the community and know their info is a click away if needed.
Want to learn more about how to care for your special needs patient or aging loved one? Access our free online caregiver videos today!
When you order any safety product at IfiNeedHelp.org between now (11/24/16) and Cyber Monday (11/28/16) we will give you a second identical item for Free. Get a second custom shoe tag for a second set of shoes, a second patch for another coat…
Your second item will be added to your order after purchase. We will just make and ship two of everything. Your email receipt will not have any information about this promotion, but we will see your order and add the second item.
This includes all products except safety kits and locks.
1. Go to ifineedhelp.org and log into your account.
2. Go to My account / and click on the “Edit If I Need Help Profile”
2. Follow the prompts to create your profile and your Emergency Q&A
3. Save & Print your information, store in a safe accessible place in case of emergency
4. During a crisis give the printed Profile & Emergency Q&A to first responders or select “Emergency Email”, enter the email addresses you wish to send the Profile & Emergency Q&A. 5. Click send & then click OK.
Yes. Our 15 year old son Jay has been receiving ABA for almost 11 years. Even though he has always improved with therapy it took almost this whole time for his elopement risk to greatly diminish. He or others like him could die or be greatly harmed while waiting for the behavioral elopement goals to be met without wearable iD. Also, what if they are in the community and get separated from their caregiver by accident.
We offer free memberships to people who might become lost, disoriented or unable to self advocate when alone or away from their caregivers. Our members are generally people with Autism, Down Syndrome, brain Injuries, diabetes, seizures, Alzheimer’s, dementia, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and other similar issues.
This works everywhere there is internet access both domestically and internationally.
Identification and information is extremely important for a person who is lost or unable to communicate. It can help save a life. Wandering is the only cause of death due to Autism. 60% of people with Alzheimer’s wander. A person having a Seizure or other physical condition often can’t tell anyone who they are or how to help.
IINH is looking to increase our free membership. You can help with networking, donating, sponsoring, volunteering, grant writing, and partnering.
A five year old non-verbal boy with Autism was with his family in a giant packed park for a soccer tournament. After each match the teams, and families would pack up and move to another field for the next match. During one such move the father thought the mother had the child and vice versa. After the move to the next field both parents realized at the same time that the boy was with neither of them. Their hearts jumped out of their chests and in a panic they started to run. Just then they received a call from a person that had found their child in another part of the park, and scanned the If I Need Help patch the child had been wearing on his shirt. He was back with his parents in minutes.
The light turned green and I pulled into the intersection to turn left. My son, Matthew, was sitting in the back seat singing “The Wheels On the Bus”.
Then everything went black…
My next memory was being slumped over in my car, crying out in pain, staring at my own blood splattered on the dash.
I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t speak.
I couldn’t hear my sons voice.
I couldn’t help him.
I later learned that a young woman was talking on her cell phone and ran the red light. She was going at least 40 mph and her car t-boned into my door.
My adult son has down syndrome, autism, and is non-verbal. I was terrified that he might be injured, or worse, but then I heard his voice and a sense of calm came over me. He was alive and that’s all I needed to know at that moment.
Though I was incapacitated I was alert enough to know that he would need special care because he wouldn’t be able to communicate if he was hurt.
Finally, after what felt like hours, two young men arrived. One of them got Matt out of the car, and to a safe place, while the other comforted me until help arrived.
It took about 30 minutes to remove me from the car and into an ambulance. I received 9 stitches in my head and Matthew, thankfully, was unhurt.
Sounds like a happy ending, right? Here’s the problem…
Though Matthew was pulled from the car and was safe, no one knew anything about him. What if he had a meltdown, had medical issues or was hurt and couldn’t communicate it to anyone? They didn’t even know his name.
I seriously considered designing a product, with a national data base, that could easily identify children and adults with special needs in case of an emergency. I never got to it but someone else did and I am so honored to recommend “If I Need Help”.
“If I Need Help” is a company that was founded by Bruce and Erin Wilson. Their autistic son disappeared several times, causing fear in their hearts, and they knew something needed to be done.
Their product, though amazing, is simple and easy to purchase and sign up for. Just go to their website: www.ifineedhelp.org and select the right product for your child, and there are many to choose from. Then register your child, listing everything that someone would need to know in case of an emergency. Every product has a QR code on it that can be scanned by any smartphone or pulled up on a computer. Some of the products they carry are; t-shirts, magnets, ID pins, bumper stickers, window clings, ID clips, patches, keychains, dog tags and cards. Every child/adult with special needs has a different tolerance level for things on their bodies or clothes so I love the selection!
In the movie “HOOK” starring Robin Williams as Peter Pan the concept that Happy Thoughts give you the power to fly and truly live was brought to life. Peter had left Never Land and grew up to become a high powered lawyer, a pirate of sorts. He had long since forgotten the Happy Thoughts and adventures of his youth. Until Hook his childhood nemesis stole his children from him. He found himself powerless to redeem them. He could not fly. Tinkerbell reminded him that he had to find his happy thoughts in order to fly again and save his kids. I think that Happy Thoughts are what give our lives Purpose. Got Purpose? If you have purpose you have life and the power to fight the battles of life. Not everyone has the same Happy Thoughts. Peter revealed his rediscovered Happy Thoughts to his son Jack in the midst of a battle to save him. I think he put it this way in a mid-battle pause. Jack, I found my Happy Thought today! With a momentary pause he smiled and said, “It’s you!” New Hope, Strength and Purpose poured out of Peter. Rediscover your Happy Thoughts and Purpose today! Then Soar!!!!!!!!