SafetyNet now available in Boston to help protect people with autism, Alzheimer’s who wander

SafetyNet announced at a press conference that its SafetyNet service is now available in the city of Boston. SafetyNet helps caregivers provide an added layer of protection for loved ones with cognitive conditions such as autism and Alzheimer’s from the life-threatening behavior of wandering. The service also provides public safety agencies with the tools and training to more effectively find and rescue those individuals if they wander and go missing.

The Boston Police Department has been trained and certified on the SafetyNet service, as well as equipped with search and rescue equipment. The department can now use the SafetyNet service to find and rescue people at risk who go missing. SafetyNet eliminates the countless man-hours that can be required in traditional search and rescue operations.

“In Massachusetts, statistics show that there are approximately 10,000 school aged children with autism and an estimated 120,000 people with Alzheimer’s. We’re very proud to offer this service, which can provide caregivers with additional peace of mind about protecting their loved ones,” said Kathy Kelleher, Vice President, SafetyNet. “Boston joins the growing list of Massachusetts communities that now offer the SafetyNet service. SafetyNet has already rescued residents in other parts of the state—and country, including the dramatic rescue of an 8-year-old boy in Quincy, Mass. who had wandered into the ocean and was rescued by local police in just 14 minutes using SafetyNet’s tracking equipment.”

To bring this valuable service to Boston, SafetyNet worked closely with the Boston Police Department. SafetyNet provided 14 sets of electronic tracking systems to Boston police. In addition, SafetyNet officials and industry experts provided certified training for police officers in each of the 11 districts located in Boston on the use of its specialized equipment to find and rescue individual clients enrolled in the service. The Search and Rescue Receivers, certified training and ongoing support are provided at no cost to the Boston Police Department or taxpayers.

How SafetyNet Works

Once caregivers enroll their loved ones in the service, they receive a SafetyNet Bracelet, which is worn by the person at risk typically on their wrist or ankle. The caregiver provides information about the client to assist in search and rescue, which is then entered into a secure database. SafetyNet provides 24×7 emergency caregiver support.

The SafetyNet Bracelet constantly emits a Radio Frequency signal. Radio Frequency is the technology of choice because, unlike cellular and GPS technology, its signal doesn’t rely on cellular networks or satellite signals and can often be tracked when a client wanders into a shallow body of water, a densely wooded area, a concrete structure such as a garage, or a building constructed with steel.

The Search and Rescue Receivers used by public safety agencies can detect the Radio Frequency signal emitted from a SafetyNet Bracelet typically within a range of approximately one mile in on-the-ground searches and 5-7 miles in searches by helicopter.

The SafetyNet certified training for public safety agencies focuses on its specialized electronic equipment, technology, procedures and on how to effectively communicate with and approach individuals who have cognitive conditions. SafetyNet’s secure database contains information on each individual client enrolled in the service so that the search and rescue team can have information on the individual’s personal habits and how he or she should be approached, spoken to and comforted.

Resources for Caregivers

SafetyNet offers SafetyNetSource, an online information and resource center designed to assist caregivers seeking tips on how to protect their loved ones who wander. SafetyNetSource offers compelling content from across the web, access to the SafetyNetSource Twitter feed and YouTube channel, a Facebook page to help caregivers communicate with one another and engage in a community of support, plus a variety of valuable resources for caregivers such as a form to distribute to the local first responders and neighbors that may be helpful in the event their loved one wanders.

Availability & More Information

For more information about SafetyNet, please call (877) 4-FINDTHEM (877-434-6384) or visit safetynettracking.com

via New Service That Helps Police Find and Rescue People Who Wander Now Available… — BOSTON,  Jan. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –.

Shonda Schilling hopes book raises Asperger’s awareness, compassion

While the Red Sox were in the middle of a season that would end with their second World Series title in three years, things were falling apart for Shonda Schilling.

Grant, then 7, the third of the Schillings’ four children, was out of control. She had suspected since he was a baby that something wasn’t right, but thought maybe he was acting out because the family had moved a lot or that he was no longer the youngest child or that his father, Curt Schilling, was on the road so much with the Red Sox.

When Shonda noticed that her 4-year-old, Garrison, was more mature than Grant, she knew he wasn’t just going through a phase.In late August of 2007, with the Sox playing in Chicago, Grant was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

via Telegram.com – An edition of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Sunday Telegram.

Fun activities for children with autism in new book

CHICAGO — Susan Walton’s son has autism. He was diagnosed at age 2, when she was pregnant with twins. Spontaneity, she learned, would quickly become a thing of the past, as predictability and routine became of the utmost importance.

But the mom of three was determined to keep her family’s life filled with joy.

“The biggest mistake we can make is to put family fun at a low priority,” she writes in her new book, “Coloring Outside Autism’s Lines: 50+ Activities, Adventures and Celebrations for Families with Children with Autism” Sourcebooks, $14.99. “It is easy to be consumed by the role autism forces us to play. We are caretakers, therapists, nutritionists, nurses, taxi drivers and so much more.”But for the sake of your child and your family, having fun needs to form a central part of any intervention and therapy you pursue.”

via The Republic – Fun needs to be on the checklist for a child with autism.

Alzheimer’s Disease: iPhone apps for caregivers

Alzheimer’s caregivers with iPhones or iPads should check out the iTunes App Store, where there are several Alzheimer’s-related applications. Among them, an app that identifies everyday objects to spark memories in dementia patients and an app that uses animation to explain brain function and anatomy to caregivers.

There are several iPhone apps that help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers. Alzheimer’s Cards is an Alzheimer’s iPhone app that displays images of foods and objects. iAlz Pro is an Alzheimer’s disease assessment app.

via Useful Alzheimer’s iPhone Apps for Seniors and Carers.

Neurology: Alzheimer’s Disease: An Overview Medical Animation from Focus Medica for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

Autism Society of America’s holiday tips for families living with autism

The Autism Society of America has 12 great tips for the holidays. Whether you are thinking about holiday food, gift giving, or Christmas decorating, preparation (tip #1) is key.

While many happily anticipate the coming holiday season, families of people on the autism spectrum also understand the special challenges that may occur when schedules are disrupted and routines broken. Our hope is that by following these few helpful tips, families may lessen the stress of the holiday season and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. The following tips were developed with input from the Autism Society, the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, Easter Seals Crossroads, the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at Logan and the Indiana Autism Leadership Network..

1. Preparation is crucial for many individuals. At the same time, it is important to determine how much preparation a specific person may need. For example, if your son or daughter has a tendency to become anxious when anticipating an event that is to occur in the future, you may want to adjust how many days in advance you prepare him or her. Preparation can occur in various ways by using a calendar and marking the dates of various holiday events, or by creating a social story that highlights what will happen at a given event.

2. Decorations around the house may be disruptive for some. It may be helpful to revisit pictures from previous holidays that show decorations in the house. If such a photo book does not exist, use this holiday season to create one. For some it may also be helpful to take them shopping with you for holiday decorations so that they are engaged in the process. Or involve them in the process of decorating the house. And once holiday decorations have been put up, you may need to create rules about those that can and cannot be touched. Be direct, specific and consistent.

3. If a person with autism has difficulty with change, you may want to gradually decorate the house. For example, on the first day, put up the Christmas tree, then on the next day, decorate the tree and so on. And again, engage them as much as possible in this process. It may be helpful to develop a visual schedule or calendar that shows what will be done on each day.

via Autism Society of America: Holiday Tips for Families Living with Autism.

Alzheimer’s and dementia: Supporting caregivers

This post from Notes for Dementia Caregivers is written by a businessman in India, but he has a lot to share with the families of caregivers everywhere. It’s entitled “Supporting the primary caregiver: Mistakes made, lessons learnt, tips shared.” Here, he looks back on some of his early “mistakes.” Follow the link to read his lessons and tips to help the dementia caregivers in your life.

My mother-in-law suffers from dementia, and my wife is the primary caregiver. Nowadays, I introduce myself as a secondary caregiver, but I did not always see myself in this role. After my mother-in-law was diagnosed, and my wife took over the role of the primary caregiver, I failed to support her for many years because of ignorance and some incorrect attitudes.

Briefly, I did not try to learn about dementia or its caregiving after the diagnosis and had no idea of what to expect. I think I expected no impact I underestimated the caregiving load and did not appreciate that my wife could be overwhelmed physically and emotionally.

I perceived her as “negative” when she looked worried or asked me to reduce travel overseas because she would not be able to handle emergencies.

Most people in India treat dementia patients as they would treat any other elder. Close relatives egged my mother-in-law to show more “willpower” and criticized and mocked her for her “dependence” on my wife. They also blamed my wife of negligence and ill-treatment of the dementia patient based on the patient’s confused statements and their own faulty perceptions. I knew this was unfair. But I told my wife and mother-in-law to “adjust” or “ignore” critical comments instead of explaining facts to relatives. My wife was completely isolated by my relatives.

I think, subconsciously, I viewed caregiving as just doing a set of home-based tasks, and easier than “professional work”. This unexamined assumption of mine affected my attitude and decisions for many years.

As my wife’s time and energy were diverted into caregiving, she had to give up the professional work she loved, and also her social life, her friends, and her hobbies. It was a loss of identity for her. I did not realise that she needed emotional and functional support, and that she needed time off from caregiving I think, subconsciously, I viewed caregiving as just doing a set of home-based tasks, and easier than “professional work.” This unexamined assumption of mine affected my attitude and decisions for many years.

via Supporting the primary caregiver: Mistakes made, lessons learnt, tips shared « Notes for Dementia Caregivers.

Holiday season stressful for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers

The holiday season is officially upon us, and for most people, it means a time filled with joy, cheer, and family. But for many seniors, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease, the holidays can be stressful — for the very same reasons it brings happiness to most others.

People with Alzheimer’s disease thrive on familiar routines; adding guests, loud conversation, and activity can be disorienting to Alzheimer’s sufferers. Wrapping gifts can be a soothing activity for Alzheimer’s patients.The stress isn’t limited to the person with the disease, however.

Caregivers and other family members often become concerned and worried whether their loved one will be uncomfortable with guests, overwhelmed by activity, or feel isolated. Even young children can become confused if a loved one no longer recognizes them or mistakes them for someone else.

Anxiety is often amplified if the person is traveling to stay with other relatives during the holidays; removing Alzheimer’s sufferers from their familiar environment can be stressful. This is true both for those living at home and individuals residing in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, who often stay overnight with loved ones over the holidays.

via Holiday Season Tough on Alzheimer’s Sufferers « SeniorHomes.com.

Playing with Legos help children with autism adapt

In an attempt to help children with autism learn the building blocks of creativity, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center tapped a toy box staple for help — Legos. By building Lego structures in new and unique ways, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learned to use creativity, an important skill that they had seen as very challenging prior to the study.

“In every day life we need to be able to respond to new situations,” said Deborah A. Napolitano, Ph.D., BCBA-D., the study’s principal investigator and assistant professor of Pediatrics at URMC’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. “If a child has only a rote set of skills, it’s hard to be successful.”

Many children with ASD can become frustrated and uncomfortable when asked to break out of repetitive activities and create something new. Using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the science of figuring out how to target and systematically change a specific behavior, the study’s researchers succeeded in teaching all six children with ASD in the study to play with Legos in a more creative way. The study’s findings have been published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis. The children, who had wanted to create the same 24-block Lego structure over and over again at the start of the study, began venturing out of their comfort zones to create new structures with different color patterns or that were shaped differently.

via Playing with building blocks of creativity help children with autism | R&D Mag.

SafetyNet available in Hillsborough County, Florida

SafetyNet is now available in Hillsborough County, Florida, to help find people with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome and other cognitive conditions who wander.

The same technology used to track animals and cars is now being used to track people.

The Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office uses the technology and says it will save lives.

Sergeant Jeff Massaro listens for a beep because that sound will lead him to a missing person.

“Those old shows where they were tracking migratory patterns of animals, this is the technology,” Massaro said.

While the radio frequency technology is old, it is now being used to find people.Massaro says people with dementia, alzheimer’s, and children that are autistic can benefit from the technology.

via Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office says technology using radio frequency finds people that wander..

A Massachusetts family struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s

Bruce Vincent, just 48 years old, has Alzheimer’s disease. The Boston Globe plans to report on this Massachusetts family’s journey with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Bruce Vincent works his way up and down the aisles of the grocery store he has owned for two decades, methodically unpacking crates of food, stocking shelves, and breaking down the empty cartons.

Midway down aisle 2, Vincent hesitates, unsure where the fudge-coated peanut butter cookies go. The redesigned package throws him, so he tucks them amid crackers on the top shelf and continues down the row.

On closer inspection, Vincent has left behind a trail of similar mismatches, which his 26-year-old son, Brian, now the boss, wearily but discreetly fixes. Used to be, the elder Vincent would gently correct the mistakes of his son, who started sweeping floors and stocking shelves at Vincent’s Country Store when he was 10 years old.

That was before Alzheimer’s disease.

via A family struggles with Alzheimer’s – The Boston Globe.