Autism Speaks Gives $5,000 Grants to Local Organizations

Autism Speaks, a leading autism advocacy organization, dedicated to  advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families, is offering $5,000 grants to local service providers addressing the areas of education/training, recreation and community activities, young adult / adult services and technology. Organizations can apply for grants on the Autism Speaks website:

This is a great opportunity for local businesses. For more information on what your organziation can do to get a grant, visit the Autism Speaks Local Grants page:

Autism Speaks

NAA to Host Capitol Hill Briefing on Autism & Wandering

Scott Martin, Director, SafetyNet will be speaking at a Capitol Hill briefing on Autism & Wandering on Tuesday, May 19th, in Washington, DC.
Sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the briefing will address the dangers of wandering and the need for federal resources that could come from passing Avonte’s Law.

Event speakers will include:
Scott Badesch, president/chief executive officer, The Autism Society
Robert Lowery, Jr., vice president, Missing Children Division, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Scott Martin, director, SafetyNet; State Police Captain (Retired), Connecticut State Police
Lori McIlwain, co-founder and board chairperson, National Autism Association
Special video remarks by Danny Oquendo, brother of Avonte Oquendo

Capitol Hill Briefing on Autism & Wandering:
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
1:00pm to 2:30pm
Russell Senate Building, Room 485
RSVP by 05/15/15 to [email protected]

Autism Safety Training Workshop for First Responders

SafetyNet Director Scott Martin has been asked to speak at the National Autism Association’s Annual Conference this week in St Petersburg, Florida. His subject matter will be using technology to assist in searches for missing people with cognitive conditions and he will be presenting to a group of First Responders who are tasked with this responsibility.

See more information at

Scott is a 29 year law enforcement veteran and retired as a Captain from the Connecticut State Police in 2006. Scott came to SafetyNet in 2008 to take a position as the Law Enforcement Director and in January 2013, Scott was appointed as Director of SafetyNet where he is responsible for overseeing all SafetyNet operations nationwide.

Finding a Wanderer Quickly and Bringing Them Home

From Paradise Home Health Care

Danger, Risk, Fear, Anxiety, Stress, Confusion all set in when a loved one with impaired judgment wanders off. Wandering is a behavior not uncommon to Alzheimer’s disease, other Dementias or Autism. Children and Seniors with some type of cognitive disability may wander off – and not be able to return home safely.

Living in South Florida, it is a daily occurence to see a Silver Alert – seeking an older senior who has driven off. Wandering by foot is one thing, by car, panic, and the person must be located as soon as possible.

Some ideas are helpful in preventing the wandering:

1. Medication. 2. Top bolt on upper part of the door 3. Bells on door odf their room and leading outside 4. Hiring an aide or companion at night

and still, a determined person can get away, it happens in a moment— as any watchful parent can attest to. It is a good idea to let neighbors know if your loved one may wander, and put your fist name and phone number in their wallet so you can be called.

Fortunately, technology has come up with a quick and easy way to locate an elderly (or child, teen) family member who has “gotten away”. SafetyNet by Lo/Jack has Radio Frequency Technology put into a lightweight button worn around the wrist which can find a person, usually within 30 minutes.

Unlike other GPS types of technology, this is waterproof, locates in dense areas like woods or where there are many buildings together and it is used in conjunction with Law Enforcement.

So if you are living with and caring for a person with diminished capacity, brain damage or a dementia and wanders off, do your best to keep them safe and consider adding this extra layer of protection and peace of mind. Should your parent, grandparent get out of the house or away from you in a Mall, SafetyNet by Lo/Jack will be able to find them in short order.

Technology will help in other ways too in preventing the person from wandering off undetected but somehow, some folks still wander off so finding and returning them home safely before any danger can happen is equally important.

Alzheimer’s and Halloween

1. Keep decorations to a minimum. Decorations that change the look of the house may lead to anxiety and confusion.

2. Avoid the scary Halloween doormat. If it scares a 6-year-old, it will scare a person with dementia.

3. Don’t put out a fake cemetery and hanging goblins in the front yard. Decorations may get you in the holiday spirit but don’t be surprised when your loved one refuses to walk in or out of the house.

4. Avoid night time use of flashlights, candles and light-up pumpkins. A person with dementia will have visual perception changes and the eerie glow that they cast can lead to high anxiety.

5. Stay away from the malls while the little ghosts and goblins are trick or treating. It may be a safer way for the kids to enjoy the holiday but for a person with dementia it will just add to the confusion and anxiety.

6. Put the candy in a safe place. Avoid leaving the treats by the front door. Your loved one with dementia may not know that he/she has dietary restrictions. Save yourself a trip to the hospital and lock the candy in a safe place.

7. Keep furniture in its place. Consequently, your loved one will not become confused or even worse, bump into things and fall. Alzheimer’s affects balance and perception. Watch out for low-lying candles! It’s always easier to prevent than to treat.

8. Avoid rigging up strange sounds like ghostly laughter or creaking doors. Avoid these because they bombard people with too much stimuli.

9. Let neighbors know that candy will be placed outside the door. So that children will not keep ringing the doorbell and frightening your loved one. Or put up a note on the door with instructions for trick or treaters.

Halloween can be tweaked and personalized to communicate a meaningful updated ritual. Both you and your loved one will enjoy the current anticipation as you tap into a positive memory of past celebrations. Make decorations together to maximize the occasion. Art therapy provides positive stimulation and creative self-expression. And while you are coloring and pasting, play music in the background, preferably from your loved one’s time period, for happiness synergy.


SafetyNet would like to thank ElderCare at Home for these helpful tips.

World Alzheimer’s Day

Today’s is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Every 68 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

One of the major concerns associated with Alzheimer’s is the fact that up to 60 percent of all patients with the disease will wander (source: Alzheimer’s Association).  Just this Wednesday, a 78-year-old Braintree man who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s wandered from his home.  Fortunately, he was located more than a mile away in front of a residential home.  Deputies and officers with the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office and Braintree Police Department, who were equipped with SafetyNet tracking equipment, were able to find him less than 20 minutes after they began their search.

At SafetyNet, we recommend that caregivers consider doing any or all of the following to best protect their loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s:

  1. Advise local first responders:  Fill out a 9-1-1 disability indicator form and submit it to your local law enforcement agency. The information provided on the form enables a special code to appear on the 9-1-1 dispatcher’s screen, alerting law enforcement that a person residing at that address may require special assistance during an emergency. In addition to this form, complete a more detailed handout with information about your loved one that you can provide to first responders. Keep copies of your handout in printed and electronic formats so you can readily provide it to search and rescue personnel in the event of an incident.
  2. Inform your neighbors:  Give them a handout with a picture of your loved one, physical characteristics and emergency contact information. You may also want to describe your loved one’s fears and effective ways to approach, communicate with and calm your loved one. Ask them to contact you immediately if they see your loved one outside your home or property.
  3. Secure your home:  Use deadbolt locks, keep doors and windows locked and install an alarm system/alert chimes on doors. Consider installing a fence around your property. Motion detectors may also be appropriate.
  4. Eliminate triggers for wandering:  If your loved one has a fixation on certain sounds or objects that draw him to investigate and wander, you may be able to eliminate these distractions.
  5. Get an ID necklace/bracelet and consider a personal tracking device:  List your emergency contact information on personal IDs and on tags for shoes, clothes and purses/bags. Also, a Radio Frequency (RF) device like SafetyNet is ideal for people at risk of wandering, because it has strong signals that can penetrate any physical obstruction. With an RF device, your loved one can be found in places that a GPS or cellular product cannot reach, such as in a wooded area, mall or parking garage.

Calm Before the Storm

Three out of four Americans are at risk for some type of natural disaster – such as hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, tornado or flood. The 5.3 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are particularly vulnerable. According to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the likelihood of severe weather due to climate changes will only increase in the coming years. Droughts, heavy downpours, excessive heat and intense hurricanes are likely to become more common.

Based on research with caregivers in disaster prone areas, the MIT AgeLab and The Hartford Advance 50 Team identified the top 10 essential elements of a disaster plan for the nearly 10 million family members or friends who provide care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease at home.

10 Tips for Caregivers

1. Build a large and diverse network that includes people outside of your day-to-day support system, but who are familiar with your loved one’s memory disorder.

2. Designate a substitute caregiver to assist your loved one if a disaster is imminent or strikes while they are home alone.

3. Do not assume your professional caregiver has a plan. Develop one together.

4. Have an evacuation plan. The decision to evacuate is especially complex when someone with Alzheimer’s is involved. Research where you would go. Expect noisy and crowded conditions at public disaster shelters, which could exacerbate challenging behaviors. If you need to go do not delay, you do not want to be in traffic for hours or even days.

5. Consider what strategy you would use to get your loved one to leave quickly and calmly. Anticipate resistance. Use tactics that have been successful in the past such as using a favorite possession or food to encourage cooperation.

6. Prepare a disaster kit with basic supplies as well as extra medications and copies of important papers. Expect that your loved one may have forgotten where items are stored.

7. Pack familiar, comforting items to keep your loved one occupied en route and while away, such as a portable DVD player, favorite books, pictures, music, games and comfortable clothes.

8. Sign up for the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return/Medic Alert program, which can give assistance if your loved one wanders. Six out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander at some point and this behavior is more likely under stress.

9. Plan for pets too. As difficult as it can be for anyone to be separated from pets in a crisis, for a person with Alzheimer’s this separation can be even more upsetting.

10. Revaluate your plan as your loved one’s disease progresses. His or her functional ability two months from now might be very different from what it is today.

“Being prepared for a natural disaster is important for all of us, but it is especially critical for family caregivers of those with memory disorders, who face additional challenges during a disaster,” said Cynthia Hellyar, gerontologist, The Hartford Advance 50 Team. “Changes in routine or surroundings can be very disturbing for some people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Having a plan helps you as the caregiver function calmly, which is paramount to keeping your loved one calm.”

These tips and more are detailed in The Calm Before the Storm: Family Conversations about Disaster Planning, Caregiving, Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. To order a free copy of the booklet – the first comprehensive natural disaster planning guide specifically created for caregivers, families and friends of those with memory disorders – visit



Source: MIT AgeLab



© Copyright 2009, Alzheimer’s Weekly LLC. All Rights Reserved

5 Summer Safety Tips

Keeping a child with autism safe is a full time job for caregivers.  When summer arrives, a whole new list of things to worry about pops up: New babysitter, new routines, camp, pools, playgrounds, and the ever popular Ice Cream Truck.

Here are 5 tips on keeping your child with autism safe this summer:

  1. Talk to Your “New” Neighbors: It’s safe to assume your neighbors already know about your child. But what if you rent a cottage or beach house on vacation this summer?  Go over to talk to those “new” neighbors. Give them a handout with a picture of your child and emergency contact information.  You may also want to describe your child’s fears and effective ways to approach, communicate and calm your child. Ask them to contact you immediately if they see a child wandering away without supervision. Take note of your surroundings: Does the cottage next door have a hot tub or a swing set?  These are potential places your child might be found.
  2. Stress the Need for Constant Supervision to New Babysitters: Make sure any new caregiver or babysitter understands that your child will wander away and needs supervision at all times while playing, regardless if it’s inside or out.  Fairly innocent things can trigger an elopement: a new playground, a fire engine driving by, or perhaps the Ice Cream Truck just pulled up.  Children with autism will cross a street without looking both ways so the caregiver will definitely need to walk your child (regardless of his/her age) across the street to get that Popsicle. Consider buying a harness if the caregiver seems reluctant to take your child outside due to the possibility of wandering. Harnesses are a choice only the parent can make. Make sure you buy one that both you and your child are happy with.
  3. Special Diet Awareness: Speaking of Popsicles, alert any caregivers or camps of your child’s special diet such as gluten free.  Fridge locks are also a good idea. If unsupervised for even a short time, a child could potentially eat something out of the refrigerator that could make them sick, such as raw food. A fridge lock would prevent that from happening. And just to be safe, have the Poison Control Emergency Number (1-800-222-1222) posted throughout the house in places where it cannot be easily removed or misplaced. Your child could ingest anything from aluminum foil to baby powder and Poison Control can help any panicky caregiver.
  4. Teach Swimming at an Early Age: People with autism are drawn to water sources such as pools, ponds and lakes.  Statistics show that accidental drowning is the leading cause of death for autistic children and adults.  Swimming lessons could prove to be invaluable. However, small children can tire easily so even if they know how to swim they may not be able to do it for very long.  Assist child in and out of the pool. If the choice were theirs, they would just walk straight into the deep end. See tip #2 about constant supervision!!
  5. Consider a Personal Tracking Device:  A Radio Frequency (RF) device, such as SafetyNet, is ideal for people at risk of wandering, because it has strong signals that can penetrate any physical obstruction.  With an RF device, you child can be found in places that a GPS or cellular product cannot reach, such as in a wooded area or concrete building. And it’s waterproof!

Missing 82-Year-Old Marshfield Man with Alzheimer’s Disease Found

Missing 82-Year-Old Marshfield Man with Alzheimer’s Disease Found Tangled in Patch of Thorny Plants;

First Rescue by Marshfield Police Using SafetyNet

On the morning of May 23rd, Vincent DiNatale, an 82-year-old resident of Marshfield, MA who has Alzheimer’s disease, wandered away from his home and did not return.  At first his wife thought he may have walked to the local store by their house, but when he did not return within ten minutes she worried he got disoriented and lost his way. Mrs. DiNatale immediately contacted the Marshfield Police Department and informed them that her husband is currently enrolled in the SafetyNet service.

Both the Police and Fire Departments sent out ground units to search for Mr. DiNatale, who has been on the SafetyNet service since February.  Officer Greg Davis soon picked up a signal from Mr. DiNatale’s SafetyNet bracelet and located him nearly one-half of a mile away from his home (and in the opposite direction of the store).  He had become tangled in a briar patch in a marsh area at the bank of the South River and not initially visible to searchers.  According to the Marshfield Police, if he wasn’t located so quickly, Mr. DiNatale’s life could have been endangered due to his being tangled and unable to get free from the thorny plants before the forthcoming high tide.

First time is a charm for the Marshfield Police! This was their first opportunity to use the SafetyNet equipment to rescue one of their residents.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to Marshfield Police and Fire Departments for rescuing Mr. DiNatale. We are happy to have another member of our SafetyNet family home safe and sound.

Check out some of the local stories and see the happily reunited couple:

SafetyNet Helps Marshfield Police Rescue Man With Alzheimer’s Disease By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV

SafetyNet bracelet helps cops rescue man, 82 By Jordan Graham – Boston Herald

SafetyNet device helps Marshfield police find man who wandered off By Patrick Ronan – Patriot Ledger





14-Year-Old Boy with Autism Rescued After Wandering into Woods

Shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 a Search and Rescue team from the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department (Massachusetts) set out to look for a missing 14-year-old Norwell boy with autism who is enrolled in the SafetyNet Service.  By using the SafetyNet tracking equipment, the first responders from both the Plymouth County Sheriff’s and the Norwell Police Departments were able to pick up the boy’s Radio Frequency signal which was being emitted from the SafetyNet bracelet he wears.

Within 25 minutes the child was found hiding in a heavily wooded area a short distance from his home. He was unharmed and returned safely to his family.

This was the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department’s third rescue of a person wearing a SafetyNet bracelet.