Finding a missing loved-one that has wandered off can be as simple as tracking a radio signal.
The Davie Police Department has joined the SafetyNet program that provides wrist or ankle bracelets for people suffering from cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Autism who may wander off and become lost.
The SafetyNet program is offered to qualified law enforcement and public safety agencies at no cost, according to the SafetyNet Web site. The free training includes learning how to use the search and rescue equipment and in-depth training and certification of it, technology and procedures for performing a search and rescue operation.
Like many autistic children, Ethan John loves the water — and that’s both a good and bad thing.If there’s water around, the 7-year-old will head right to it, even if there’s nobody watching him.
“Everything else is so chaotic for him, but being in a pool or the ocean relaxes him,” says his mother, Koren McKenzie-John, of Tamarac. “We can’t take our eyes off of him for a second.
“Because of children like Ethan, water safety instruction is crucial in South Florida. And, in fact, experts say South Florida offers the most-advanced programs to teach autistic children how to swim. Instructors here must go through an extra layer of certification to work with special-needs children. And kids are matched with qualified instructors through Broward and Palm Beach county water-safety agencies.
“It’s a great model, the best in the country,” says Jack Scott, executive director of the Florida Atlantic University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. “Florida is trying to teach them water safety rather than have instructors who just throw up their hands and say, ‘They can’t do it.’ ”
The Miami fundraising walk raised more than $400,000 for autism research. Among those helping – Marino’s son, Michael, 22, who was diagnosed with autism 20 years ago, and Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland, dad to twin teenage girls autism.
SafetyNet is proud to have been a sponsor of this exciting, successful event.
Friday, as DJ1Tre set up his equipment on the Sun Life Stadium field for Saturday’s Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism, he took in the empty stadium. He’d seen the place full and rocking when his father used to work there. But he found it hard to believe 6,000 people would be on the field Saturday.
“I was out there earlier, it really is 6,000 people. It truly is a great day,” said DJ1Tre, a 22-year-old also known as Michael Marino, son of former Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and a college graduate diagnosed as autistic 20 years ago.
“Mike is a miracle really,” Dan Marino said. “When it comes to a young kid diagnosed at 2 years old, now graduated college, doing great. … I get choked up thinking about it. He’s a good kid, a good kid. Today’s special for me. He’s going to be out there working, doing a little spinning and being a part of this. To know the kind of impact he’s had not only on our lives, but the situation we were in, been able to help a lot of other people. That’s what’s good about it.”
A crowd gathered outside Sun Life Stadium, clad in T-shirts trumpeting their group supporting autism research and care. In one group were the members of Raiders For Autism, representing Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High School. In another group were Otters 4 Autism from Weston Everglades Elementary. Here, there, and everywhere were personally themed teams such as Justin’s Village and Joshua’s Jaywalkers, the latter named for 5-year-old Joshua Corliss.
“He was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago, so we’re here to support the cause,” said Debby Corliss, a Pembroke Pines dentist.
This Florida program for adults with special needs will expand from Saturdays to five days a week. Household skills, public social skills, art and wellness are on the curriculum.
Where do deaf and disabled students find enrichment after they age out of public schools?
That’s the question Liz Disney said bothered her for months. As her 21-year-old special-needs daughter, Micaela, nears the cutoff for high school students, the mother wondered how disabled adults found social lives and stimulating education beyond the classroom.
“There’s a great need for students aging out of the system at 22. Their options are limited as to where they go after that,” Disney said. “I think it’s a common fear for parents with special needs. The community doesn’t exactly have fulfillment with jobs.”
As program director of the Cooper City-based nonprofit Schott Communities, Disney works daily with deaf and disabled adults craving life skills after graduation. To help special-needs students integrate from school into successful social lives, she’s launching a COMPASS program this September.
Stemming from a pilot program Schott created in January 2010, she said COMPASS builds character through classes ranging from ballroom dancing to speech therapy. The special needs-championing agency currently offers the class on Saturdays, which includes arts and crafts projects, a yoga course, field trips and “specials,” or specialized classes where guest speakers teach life skills.
Ernie Els now has a charity event for amateurs that will reward fundraising skills as much as good golf, hopeful it can raise upward of $3 million to help build a center for autistic children.
It’s called the “Els For Autism Golf Challenge,” and it will involve at least 32 tournaments across the country featuring two-player teams that qualify depending on how much money they raise for the project.
Els, a three-time major champion and one of golf’s most popular figures worldwide, disclosed in March 2008 that his 8-year-old son, Ben, has autism. A year later, the South African announced plans to build the “Els for Autism Center of Excellence” in South Florida to be a research and education facility for children with autism.
“Years from now, people may remember me as a golfer and a major champion,” Els said. “But I’d like also to be remembered as somebody who took the issue of autism and did something with it.”
A Ft. Lauderdale preschool program for children with autism has raised enough money to buy an iPad for each of its 18 classrooms.
As United Press International reports, the tablets are loaded with applications such as Proloquo2Go, a communication app that allows users to select phrases and words to make sentences.
The school raised the money for the iPads in an “18 iPads in 18 Days” donation initiative.The Baudhuin Preschool, located at the Mailmen Segal Institue at Nova Southeastern University, specializes in teaching children with autism spectrum disorders with programs designed for pre-kindergarten students.
The school teaches about 150 students through a contract with the Broward County Board of Education.
Robert Monroe is 68 years old. He has had brain surgery and now suffers from dementia-like symptoms. On Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m., he left his house in the Sullivan Ranch neighborhood of Mount Dora, Lake County. But his normal walk turned out to be anything but for whatever reason.
Monroe just kept walking and walking and walking. In 5.5 hours, he walked 9.5 miles. He wound up at the J&M Convenience Store in Apopka off of Highway 441.
Store owner Julio Garcia immediately gave Monroe water for his apparent signs of dehydration.
“I asked him where he comes from. He didn’t know. I asked him where he slept last night. He didn’t know. I asked him where he was going. He said he was going to Orlando. I asked how he could go to Orlando on a highway like 441,” remembers Garcia.
Little did Garcia know that the Lake County Sheriff’s Office was just minutes from rescuing Monroe from his wandering walk. All thanks to a little gadget called the SafetyNet Bracelet.
Knowing that he was wearing the bracelet, Monroe’s wife had called the Sheriff’s Office to report him missing. In turn, they powered up a bunch of receivers in a helicopter and patrol cars that use radio frequency that can communicate with Monroe’s bracelet. Once they got a general idea of where he was, they got more specific pings with a hand-held receiver.
“Sometimes you might look for someone who does not have this equipment, doesn’t have a transmitter, it might be days before you locate the person,” says Sgt. Karen Lovelace of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
NEW PORT RICHEY – Adam Schmiz had the oil pastels, the paper and the freedom to create whatever he wanted, but the artistic muse refused to kick in.
Artist Mindy S. Egert decided to give the 12-year-old a little coaxing and a pep talk.
“You know what you can do, Adam?” she said. “You can close your eyes and draw with your eyes closed. It doesn’t matter. Art is from you and it’s all wonderful in my opinion.
“Adam began to draw.
It was one more small victory in the autism/varying exceptionalities class at Seven Springs Middle School, where Egert is serving as an artist in residency and giving a creative boost to the nine students in teacher Kala Hamilton’s classroom.
About half the students are autistic and the others have other disabilities, Hamilton said.”It’s very hard for these kids to focus five minutes,” Hamilton said during a one-hour lesson with Egert this week. “It’s already been 11 minutes, and they are still very involved.
Egert’s visits to Hamilton’s classroom are made possible through the VSA Florida Artist in Residency Program, which is based at the University of South Florida’s College of Education.
Harvey the tortoise seemed bewildered by the sudden attention as 9-year-old Anthony Cancel tapped his shell with two fingers and the other children quickly followed suit.
“This is our special guest today,” said Andy Bortzner, part of the Brevard Zoo’s educational staff and a child psychology major at Brevard Community College. “Only I can hold him, but you can touch him to see what he feels like.”
The children, eight in all, watched Harvey intently before raising their hands and peppering Bortzner with questions: Is Harvey a boy or a girl? Where does he come from? Does he like the land or the sea?
Most, but not all of them, including Anthony, have been diagnosed with autism, a complex developmental disability that interferes with social interactions and communication skills. On this particular day, however, none of that mattered, as these ordinary barriers seemed to ease amid the excitement of a tree house, a cave and the lagoon landing in the kids’ section of the Brevard Zoo.
The zoo setting is part of a new collaborative effort between the zoo’s educational staff and Florida Institute of Technology’s Scott Center for Autism Treatment to provide a model program for autistic children and their families called Zoo Quest.
Ten-year-old Brandon freely calls the man he has lived with for three months Dad. It’s a potent word for a child in foster care.
His birth family’s history with the system stretches back to when he was a toddler; the fourth-grader came into care most recently in 2008. He has moved six times since.
“If I have to leave, I be sad,” said Brandon, a polite, lanky boy with glasses. “Then, they don’t like me anymore. My mom and dad now, they like me.”
A new agreement between state agencies seeks to make it more likely for children such as Brandon, many of whom had been seen as unadoptable, to join a family for good.
The Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities are linking foster children with developmental disabilities such as autism or cognitive impairment to a Medicaid waiver.