15-Year-Old Boy with Autism Wandered to Boston’s Subway System; Rescued by MBTA Transit Police Using SafetyNet System

Yesterday morning, a 15-year-old resident of East Boston – who has autism and is enrolled in the SafetyNet Service – wandered away from his school to one of his favorite spots – the subway system – and was rescued within approximately 20 minutes by MBTA Transit Police using the SafetyNet System. This is the first rescue in Boston since the service was made available in January 2011.

Details of the Rescue:
When school officials noticed the boy was missing, they immediately called 911. Boston Police Department dispatch notified its ground units, as well as the MBTA Transit Police Department. Police were alerted that the boy’s last known location was North Station and arrived with their SafetyNet tracking equipment. Approximately 20 minutes after arriving at North Station, officers with the MBTA Transit Police began picking up a signal emitting from the missing boy’s SafetyNet Bracelet. The signal was coming from Downtown Crossing and was strongest underground. Officers went underground into the subway, boarded a train and were able to locate the boy, who was heading southbound. Using techniques learned in the SafetyNet training sessions, the officers were able to effectively communicate with and approach the boy and ultimately safely remove him from the train. He was rescued unharmed and later brought back to his parent.

“We are proud of our transit police officers’ quick response to this emergency situation,” said Transit Police Deputy Chief Joseph O’Connor. “With the use of SafetyNet Search and Rescue Receivers, officers were able to reunite the lost child with his family within minutes.”

This is the first rescue of a client enrolled in the SafetyNet service in the city of Boston.

The SafetyNet service is comprised of a SafetyNet Bracelet worn by a client that emits Radio Frequency signals, which can be tracked by local public safety officials via their SafetyNet Search and Rescue Receivers.

The SafetyNet service is currently available to residents in Boston, as well as many surrounding towns and counties. In an effort to provide valuable protection to individuals at risk of wandering, SafetyNet, Inc. is currently providing 1,500 free SafetyNet devices — along with six months of service — now through September 30, 2011 October 15, 2011 to any interested caregivers living in SafetyNet’s coverage areas. For more information on SafetyNet and the giveaway, please contact (877) 4-FINDTHEM (877-434-6384) or visit www.safetynettracking.com.

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/ –.

Boy with autism, Down syndrome will throw first pitch at Red Sox game

A Maine boy with autism and Down syndrome will throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park in Boston Tuesday, disability awareness night. Go Jackson! (And go Red Sox!)

Jackson Hickey will be on the mound Tuesday night at Fenway Park, not as a replacement for the battered Red Sox staff but to throw out the first pitch.

The 11-year-old from West Gardiner will be center stage on disability awareness night prior to Boston’s game against Tampa Bay. Jackson’s mother, Jayne, entered her son’s name into a contest promoted by Exceptional Parents Magazine and got a response within 24 hours.

“I filled out (a form) and I saw the Red Sox were an option,” she said. “I said ‘I’d really like to make his dream come true.’ ”

The magazine honors a special family each year and selected the Hickeys for their compelling story.

via West Gardiner boy to throw out 1st pitch at Fenway | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME.

Caregiver Spotlight: Lylah Alphonse

swLMA-headshot3-240x300SafetyNet is pleased to feature Lylah Alphonse, a busy mom and step-mom to five children, who works at the Boston Globe and blogs about parenting, autism and other topics for boston.com and other sites. Her personal blog is Write Edit Repeat.com.

What is your name & how many children do you have?

My name is Lylah M. Alphonse, and I have five children — three by marriage, and two more “from scratch.” They’re 16, 14, 11 (almost 12), 5, and 3. Our about-to-turn 12-year-old boy has Asperger’s Syndrome.

What’s the name of your blog and the inspiration behind it? How did it come to be?

My personal blog is called Write Edit Repeat, and it started out as my on-line clips file. I’m a journalist who works fulltime at the Boston Globe and part-time as a freelance editor and writer for several other places, and in August 2007 I realized that much of my work was simply floating around on the internet. I wanted to gather it — or at least links to it — in one place. Now, I post there about the more personal angles and the background to the stories I write professionally. I try to be a resource to parents while still respecting my kids’ privacy.

Within a couple of months of establishing Write Edit Repeat, I was asked to blog about what it’s like to juggle career and parenthood at Workitmom.com — my blog there is called The 36-Hour Day.  Soon after that, I became the managing editor at Work It, Mom!, which is a great online community for women. I also started writing about career and finance for Yahoo!’s Shine.

In January 2009, I started writing about parenting news and advice at Boston.com, reviving the Child Caring blog there. Just this month, the Globe spun me off as my own brand, with a blog and a print column called “In the Parenthood.” I write about parenting news, tips, and trends, and I like to use the platform to raise awareness about autism.

What advice would you give to caregivers of children with autism?

Breathe. Remember that each child is different, and that it’s called a spectrum for a reason. What treatments, exercises, and coping methods work for one child may not work for yours, so find the tools that you need to help your own child, and don’t worry about whether you’re doing it “right” or not. If it works for you, and your child is doing well, it’s right.

I found it very helpful to try to see things through our boy’s eyes. Ellen Notbohm wrote a great essay a few years ago, called “10 Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew”; I interviewed her last year as part of my month-long Autism Awareness series. You can read the interview and her essay here.

What do you find you need most help with as a caregiver?

Remembering to take care of myself, too. A burned-out Mama does not a happy family make.

What is your biggest challenge as a caregiver?

Communication. In a blended family, communication is more important than ever, especially when you’re dealing with autism.

What is your favorite book or website? Why?

In general? There are so many! Personally: My favorite books are the “Anne of Green Gables” series, probably because Anne is a quirky, smart, independent character with an amazing imagination. In terms of coping with autism, I think my favorite website is AutismSpot.com — a supportive community with incredibly helpful (and free) resources. It was founded by Kent Potter, who has a son on the spectrum.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the idea that it’s amazing what you can do if you don’t know that you can’t do it. Too often, we assume we’ll fail at something, so we don’t bother to try it at all. My parents inspire me. My brothers inspire me. My husband inspires me. My children inspire me — all five of them. When I think things are too hard, I ask myself what I’d want them to do in my situation.

Who is one of your idols? Why?

This may sound silly, but when I was a child, “Mighty Mouse” was my idol. I loved the idea that the tiniest of creatures could be the one who saved the day.

I’m not sure I have an idol now, as much as I just have ideals.

May Institute, SafetyNet Promote Autism Awareness on the MBTA

What does autism look like? Millions of commuters in Massachusetts will find out during April – National Autism Awareness Month – thanks to a powerful public awareness campaign that features photos and stories of children with autism as well as important information about the disorder.

The campaign – What Does Autism Look Like? – was created by May Institute, a national nonprofit organization that serves individuals with autism and other special needs, and is being sponsored by SafetyNet service. What Does Autism Look Like? will be launched today at a press conference at 11 a.m. at South Station in Boston.

This year’s campaign includes more than 1,000 informational pieces on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system – 125 platform posters in dozens of subway and commuter rail stations, and 900 educational car cards displayed in subway cars and buses. As many as 1.3 million riders use the MBTA each day.

“May Institute and our National Autism Center are committed to increasing public awareness about autism,” said President and CEO Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABPP. “We are delighted to partner with SafetyNet on this campaign. We know that increased awareness results in earlier diagnosis and treatment – critical components for the future success of children with autism.”

“May Institute is a highly regarded organization,” said John Paul Marosy, General Manager of SafetyNet. “SafetyNet is very pleased to support the Institute’s efforts to generate awareness of autism and other cognitive conditions through this campaign.”

via May Institute, SafetyNet Team up to Promote Autism Awareness on the MBTA — BOSTON, March 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –.

With autism film, Boston-area mother reaches out

Eliza Mury was only one year old when she said her first word — ‘‘doggie’’ — and a few more words followed. But soon her parents noticed that her vocabulary seemed frozen. Speech therapy didn’t help.

Eliza’s mother, Aimee Mury, took her daughter to doctors and specialists, but none diagnosed anything more serious than a hearing deficiency. Friends and relatives, though, had gently begun to suggest that Eliza might be autistic. Aimee Mury was so fearful of the condition, she could barely say the word.

After repeated exams by specialists, Eliza was diagnosed with autism when she was 2 1/2, in the spring of 2007. Aimee Mury read everything she could about the condition. But as she learned about traits and treatment, she had a hard time seeing what an autistic child looked like.

‘‘It’s very hard initially to meet other people and kids,’’ Mury said. ‘‘I was on YouTube and I was trying to search for autism. And I found there was very little out there.’’

Nearly three years after Eliza’s diagnosis, Aimee Mury has helped create a movie about her daughter and their struggle to get her diagnosed called ‘‘Eliza, My Songbird.’’ The movie, produced and directed by Mury’s neighbor, Zadi Zokou, will have its first public showing Sunday at Natick’s Morse Institute Library.

via In film on autism, mother reaches out – Natick – Your Town – Boston.com.