New Technology Prevents You From Losing Your Children

Q. I have three children – a healthy 2-year old and twin 9-year olds with severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. I recently took them  grocery shopping, and when looking at the ingredients on a label, one of my twins disappeared. Luckily, the clerk at the front of the store found him wandering around and returned him to me. Unfortunately, this was not the first time this type of incident had happened.  I need to be constantly vigilant about losing track of my autistic twins and my 2-year old.  Like many parents, I am very concerned because both of my twins are non-verbal and something could happen to any one of my children.  If one of my children really got lost, how would anyone who finds him or her know who he or she is and how to get in contact with the me?

A. Parents of young children and children with autism have many fears. Like Laura from our example, one of them is losing their child as they wander off to some place they are not familiar with.

It has long been known that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a tendency to take off on their own. In fact, in 2012, the journal Pediatrics published a study confirming the alarmingly high incidence of kids who wander. The study surveyed parents of 1,218 children with ASD, and found that 49% of children with ASD had wandered off at least once after the age of four. Of these, 24% were in places where they were at risk of drowning and 65% were in danger of injuries in traffic. The study pointed to “the urgent need to develop interventions to reduce the risk . . . [and] to support families dealing with this issue….”

Many industries have enjoyed success with QR (Quick Response) codes, and they are now being used by parents, as well, as a way to track wandering children with ASD. QR codes (two dimensional square codes which can be read by smart phones) are an inexpensive way to share a lot of information in a small area.

Small tags on most medic-alert bracelets do not typically have enough space to give all the necessary information. A bracelet imprinted with a QR code could link to a website explaining an autistic child’s medical condition, medications, alternate emergency contacts, insurance information and any other data about that child, including how to calm them down. If the person who finds the wandering child does not have a smart phone handy, the bracelet should also be imprinted with the URL of a profile page about the child or a way to contact the parent.

QR codes (on bracelets, necklaces, keychains etc.) can also be used by caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Down syndrome, epilepsy and other conditions, as well. Emergency response personnel can just scan the QR codes and retrieve vital health information about seniors and others with special needs, and be able to locate contact information of family members of a disoriented senior with dementia. They can find out what medications are safe and what other procedures are needed to help seniors or those with special needs.

If you are technologically savvy, you can create your own free QR code for a child or senior who wanders, that links to any page you choose on the Internet, by visiting the Free QR code generator.

Do you or a family member have special needs? Twenty million American families have at least one member with special needs.  Parents of those with special needs are tasked with planning for their children throughout their lifetime, as many of them will outlive their parents but might not be able to support themselves and live independently.

As a parent or guardian, you want to ensure that your child with special needs will remain financially secure even when you are no longer there to provide support.  A Special Needs Trust is a vehicle that provides assets from which a disabled person can maintain his or her quality of life, while still remaining eligible for needs-based programs that will cover basic health and living expenses. Learn more at The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website, or call us at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for a consultation


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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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