As a young person, I traveled, spending a lot of time in India and backpacking around Alaska. I figured I’d live in a cabin in the Rockies and spend much of my time hiking, hanging out in nature, and meditating. I even met my husband, Bruce, at a meditation center.
But the truth is, I barely ever have a quiet moment—and I never go hiking. At 46, my life isn’t what I thought it would be. It’s better.
Three years after our daughter Grace was born, I gave birth to our son, Jay. When Jay was about 2-and-a-half years old, Bruce and I started to suspect that something wasn’t right. We thought he should be talking more. He interacted differently with toys—constantly holding them but rarely playing with them.
When Grace was in kindergarten, we talked to a speech therapist at her school about Jay. After having him evaluated, we learned he was, indeed, delayed. When he was 3, we enrolled him in special education.
but that didn’t last long. He had a major regression and lost all speech. He began running around the house screaming and engaging in other behaviors he’d never displayed before.
When Jay was diagnosed with autism, we were devastated and heartbroken. I wanted to hole up in a dark room and cry, but Bruce and I knew we had to pull it together and be advocates for our son. We consulted with a mother of an autistic child who told us step-by-step what to do to get help. We were able to get a significant amount of services for our son because we wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
We’ve worked hard to give Jay the best possible life, to keep him safe. That’s why we were mortified in 2011 when Jay got lost at his school. Another mother found him alone on the grounds, just inside the gate. She knew Jay and how to approach him. She was able to take him by the hand and escort him to the office. Another time he got lost at camp.
These frightening situations prompted us to found If I Need Help, a nonprofit organization aimed at keeping children and adults—especially those with special needs—safe in potentially dangerous situations.
When we came up with the idea for If I Need Help, Bruce and I were brainstorming; looking for ways to keep people like our son safe in emergency situations. It was then—when we were open and seeking—that this divine idea was able to land.
We created a variety of products—everything from patches to pins, clips to shoe tags— each with a special QR code. When the person is found, the code can be scanned by a smartphone or tablet, or their number can be entered on our website to access pertinent information in an emergency. These products can, quite literally, save lives.
A woman named Denise Carter shared a heartwrenching story on her Facebook page, “And Then They Grow Up.” Denise was driving to McDonald’s with her adult son, Matthew, who has Down syndrome, autism, and is nonverbal. A woman talking on a cell phone ran a red light and hit Denise’s car at 40 mph. Although Denise was incapacitated, she was alert enough to know that her son, while unhurt, wouldn’t be able to communicate anything about himself, including his name.
Denise discovered our company after the accident and told her Facebook followers about our products. Her story, posted on our ifineedhelp.org website, went viral. In just a few days, we had more than a thousand orders and membership on our website quadrupled. I couldn’t think about the magnitude of what was happening. I focused instead on being thankful— and on making our new customers feel special.
I’ve had a lot of sadness about my son’s disability, but my faith has remained steadfast. Through our nonprofit, I believe we’re serving a higher purpose—one I could never have imagined for myself.
At 13, our Jay is a big boy. He just started junior high. He finds joy in blowing bubbles. He loves to run and jump. He enjoys watching and caring for people. He likes to feed me.
But Jay also has a lot of anxiety. We drive around the canyons around our home in Santa Clarita, California, because it’s one of his favorite pastimes. When he’s escalating, I start to chant. While he’s very low verbal, Jay comes into the chant. Before long, he’s peaceful again.
Sometimes when he’s agitated, I’ll have him sit on the couch, put his hands in his lap, close his eyes, and meditate. While he doesn’t stay there long, it changes his entire demeanor. These kinds of experiences tell me he’s a very spiritual young man.
I’ve always felt that at the end of my life, I’m going to say it was Jay who brought me to my purpose in life.
Erin Wilson is cofounder of the nonprofit ifineedhelp.org with her husband Bruce. Their son Jay has severe autism and had gotten lost in the past. Creating If I Need Help has been a labor of love to protect him and others who have special needs.
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!
We are Bruce & Erin Wilson parents of Grace and Jay and the founders of If I Need Help formerly QR Code iD. If you have any questions about our organization please contact us through our website, social media, or call us. We’d love to hear from you.
|We have changed our name and are now a Non Profit Corporation!|
We have changed our name from QR Code iD to If I Need Help
& are now a 501(C)(3) Public Charity.
All your existing QR Code iD products still work with If I Need Help.
|Free Membership & Emergency Emails|
Our memberships are free, and designed to help caregivers and people with special needs. Upon joining you create a profile for your loved one. This profile can be accessed by scanning a unique QR Code or going directly to the website and entering unique number. You can print your code from your account page as many times as you want.
In an emergency your profile can be emailed to you, updated and forwarded to people that can help search. Please remember to setup your live profile and get familiar with Emergency email. That way in a situation you will already be prepared & know what to do. Emergency Email
|PATCHES, DOG & SHOE TAGS, ID CARDS, PINS, CLIPS & MORE!!|
Everyone has different needs for custom iD! Please check out our expanding product list and find what works best for your unique situation. Our products are priced to be affordable. Our Products
Your greatly appreciated tax deductible contributions help keep our website up, our prices down, fund our giveaways and community outreach programs.
|Donations from Amazon Smiles & Ralphs|
If you live in Southern California and shop at Ralphs please follow link & print Ralphs form, take it to Ralphs, have it scanned like a coupon and then IINH gets a portion of your purchase as a donation from Ralphs for a year.
Please sign up with Amazon Smiles and select IINH as your charity. Then a portion of your Amazon purchases is donated by Amazon to If I Need Help. Amazon Smiles
Thank you very much
Bruce & Erin Wilson