Wandering: An ASD Parent’s Unpredictable Nightmare

March 8, 2018

Natasha and Joshua enjoying a day at the park. Natasha is always alert so Joshua doesn't have a chance for wandering!

By Natasha Barber

Wandering in children with Autism is unpredictable and varies so much from day to day;

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!!

Both my boys are my world and Joshua for sure has inspired me in so many ways!

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

Natasha Barber was born in Canada. She graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Engineering. Natasha works for General Motors in Michigan and spends all her spare time with her family helping raise her Beautiful son that is on the Autism Spectrum and helping people all over the world with her Non Profit Autism Moms Know Safety.


Neighbor Alert for people that might wander!

February 13, 2018

Erin Wilson is the Mom of a fun loving, energetic 16-year-old son who has Autism. He was lost at school and camp in the past. Erin and her husband Bruce founded  If I Need Help  out of love and concern for their son Jay. If Jay could “wear his iD”, and became lost there would be a way for a finder to help. If I Need Help works to reunite those who might become lost, disoriented or need assistance in a critical moment with their Families, Loved ones, and Caregivers using new and existing technologies in ways that are practical, easy to access and affordable. The free memberships allow Caregivers to create a profile, edit in real time, use the Emergency Q&A, print out a code linking to profile and now use the Neighbor alert. 

Neighbor Alert for loved ones with special needs that might wander, have behaviors or medical concerns

Our Neighbor alert can let your neighbors know when their is a person with special needs that might need help in the neighborhood.

Hello Neighbor, Neighbor Alert


Neighbor Alert seamlessly fits our mission “Help For Our Loved Ones Who May Wander or Need Assistance!”

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.

The Emergency Q&A helps people give first responders information about their loved ones

Emergency Question and Answers

What to do when your Loved One goes missing and you are to upset to answer a First Responder’s questions? 

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.   

Wearable iD links to Profile

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.

Words Matter for people with Special Needs too!

February 5, 2018

One of my family members made a joke about Special Olympics

By Erin Wilson ifIneedhelp.org

Words matter. Erin holds her son Jay tightly on a beautiful sunny day. Jay is a wandering risk.

Erin and Jay enjoying the sunshine

In our every day lives words are just a normal part of our conversations but words matter.

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.

My life’s purpose is to advocate for, protect and cherish my son who is a wandering risk and can be a danger to himself 

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.

Safety Quick Start

October 20, 2017

Expert Interview Series: Erin Wilson of If I Need Help on Medical ID Bracelets For Elderly Adults

April 1, 2017






This interview was originally on the mmLearn.org website: https://goo.gl/UuZNUj

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.

If I Need Help was founded to help your son, who suffers from Autism. What did you feel was missing from the medical alert bracelets that already existed, that you hoped to remedy with If I Need Help?

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.

If I Need Help isn’t just a medical alert bracelet, as you offer a number of wearable iD products, like shoe tags or pins. What are some benefits of having other kinds of iD tags, other than just medical alert bracelets?

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.

If I Need Help lets users scan for the tag when lost, with a smartphone or tablet. What are some situations where this might be necessary? What sorts of things can be prevented, using this information?

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.

If I Need Help also allows for the online profile to be updated, in real-time. When would that option need to be implemented? What are the benefits of real-time profile updating?

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.

How can wearable medical ID bracelets help give caregivers peace of mind, for themselves and their loved ones?

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.

How can other kinds of wearable medical alert devices, like pins and shoe tags, help convince people who might be self-conscious about wearing a medical device?

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.

Your medical alert devices’ primary audience is people suffering from mental disabilities, like Autism or Down’s Syndrome. Why is If I Need Help particularly useful for people suffering from mental disabilities? What are some things that are particularly to elderly medical alert users, that medical alert bracelets can also help remedy?

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.

A lot of information can be communicated with engraved medical alert bracelets, like blood type, allergies, or even someone’s faith. First of all, how can this information be literally life-saving, in the right circumstances? How does If I Need Help’s model improve on the engraved medical bracelet model?

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.

95% of medical responders report checking for medical ID bracelets or devices, in case of an emergency. Keeping this in mind, why should anyone who’s concerned with their elderly loved ones well being make sure they are wearing a medical ID or alert bracelet or device?

Knowledge is power. This will provide the first responder with what the needs are of your loved one immediately.

People who wear medical alert bracelets are found to have fewer hospital admissions and shorter stays, according to the New England Journal Of Medicine. How can medical alert bracelets, like If I Need Help, help elderly patients enjoy their lives and live independently for as long as possible?

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!

Cyber Monday Promotion

November 24, 2016

The Great If I Need Help #bogo sale!

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.

Using Your Caregiver Controlled Special Needs Registry

May 1, 2016

To create & Use your Caregiver Controlled Special Needs Registry

artwork crop top

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.

IfINeedHelpEmergencyQ&A- page1 IfINeedHelpEmergencyQ&A - Page2

Frequently Asked Questions

December 12, 2015

What is your solution… If I Need Help wearable iD:

  • Is very sturdy and reliable. It is set it up and forget it. Our son has a patch on every shirt. He always wears shirts. If he were to be lost he would be able to be iD’d from this wearable iD. We have a wide array of products for people with different sensory needs. Many people do not want to stick out so much when at school or in everyday settings so our shoe tag would be more subtle and helpful for them. Other people might not wear clothing and run away when naked. Our temporary tattoos can help them. We also have things for high functioning people such as dog tags, keychains, and iD cards that they would choose to show only when they are having communication issues such as being pulled over by the police or getting on the wrong bus and not being able to communicate from the unexpected real world situation.
  • Our products are very affordable. Average cost for wearable id is typically only $10 to $15 with no fees.
  • All information can be updated in real time by the caregivers as the situation changes.

What about client confidentiality:

  • There are two parts to our free registry. The public profile, and the confidential question and answers section.
  • Public profile: This is the part of the registry that would be visible when scanned or entered on the website. We tell people to not use last names, or addresses and to only put the information they would be comfortable with having a finder know to help their loved one in a critical situation.  This can be updated in the moment.
  • Confidential question and answers: The is the personal information of the user. It is caregiver controlled and not seen when the wearable code is scanned or entered on the website. This is the type of information that first responders would need to know in a critical missing and can be updated in real time by the caregiver. The caregiver would have to either print or email to whomever they decide to share it with in an emergency. This information could also be shared with our growing national police network if the caregiver chooses to opt in.

Can predators use information obtained by scanning the wearable iD or entering the unique code on the website

  • It would be very difficult. To scan a stranger would be very visible and stand out like a sore thumb. They would need to get within inches of the code on the wearable iD. Most of the people that are vulnerable to this would be low functioning and would always be with a family member or aide. If not with an aide the wearer is lost, in danger, and needs a finder to have the information to help them and get them home safely. As a parent of a child with autism the chance of my child being helped in an emergency by having this information available far outweighs the very low likelihood of it falling into the wrong hands.

Do we need affordable wearable iD and a free caregiver controlled special needs registry? We already fund Behavioral Therapy…

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.

  • With intense speech therapy Jay has gone from nonverbal to low verbal while this is life changing in itself he still cannot really communicate in an emergency. The main time he was lost he was not trying to elope. At 6 years old after drop off at school his aide forgot to bring him inside with the class. He was standing by the fence scared to death. Anything could have happened to him. A mom passing him knew who he was and brought him inside. We were lucky and as a result started If I Need Help.
  • People with physical issues such as Epilepsy, Diabetes and other issues that hinder them from being able to self advocate during a critical moment are also using this system.

What does If I Need Help do:

  • 100% free caregiver controlled profile with picture, contact and emergency info. This information is editable in real time as life happens.
  • Emergency Q&A This information can contain all a first responder would need such as picture, height, weight, can they swim, are they verbal, do they have a diagnosis, medications taken, special accommodations etc. freeing the caregiver from having to remember all the important details during the pressure of a crisis.
  • Emergency email that can send the user profile with picture and emergency Q&A to first responders in the need of a search or other critical situation.
  • Wide assortment of wearable iD products and other safety products often utilizing QR technologies with text linked to a unique user profile. The wide variety of products are designed so there will be an appropriate iD product for everyone no matter their sensory needs.

How does If I Need Help work:

  • When a wearable iD’s code is scanned or manually entered on our website the member’s profile can be accessed by a finder and the person in need can be helped and returned home.
  • During a search or other event by logging into our website and pressing the “emergency email” the members profile, and extensive Emergency Q&A form will be emailed to whoever the user needs to send it to.

Who does If I Need Help serve:

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.

Where does If I Need Help work:

This works everywhere there is internet access both domestically and internationally.

Why Is If I Need Help Important:

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.

How Can I Get Involved:

IINH is looking to increase our free membership. You can help with networking, donating, sponsoring, volunteering, grant writing, and partnering.

Success Story:

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.

If I Need Help might save your child’s life!

August 7, 2015

Please…don’t wait until your child disappears or you have a wreck or some other emergency…
“If I Need Help” products just might save your child’s life!

Written by Denise Carter
And Then They Grow Up (On Facebook)

If I Need Help" products just might save your child's life

I am his voice…He is my heart

It had been such a great day! My son and I had just left a friend’s house and we were headed to McDonald’s.

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!

Please share on your page so others will know!

If I Need Help can be found at: ifineedhelp.org

Shoe tags & iD Patches

If I Need Helps Wearable iD

Relearning How To Fly!!

July 26, 2015

Rediscover Hope, Purpose and Strength!!

By Special Guest Blogger Mark A. Mulvaney Sr.

Taking Off!

Happy Thoughts!

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!!!!!!!!