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U.S. gov't finances GPS trackers for children with autism

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The U.S. government has expanded fund availability for GPS tracking devices used to monitor vulnerable people to include children on the autism spectrum.

14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, who had severe autism and was unable to speak, vanished in October last year in Queens -- sparking off an intense search -- after he left his school without supervision. However, his remains were recently found in a river miles from where he was last spotted. This week, another autistic child went missing after running away from his mother, and the 12-year-old was able to board a train before being discovered by police. 

Following these two cases, the U.S. Justice Department has agreed to extend funding for GPS tracking devices issued to caregivers. In the past, these devices were only issued in the case of seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s, a degenerative condition that can result in memory loss and confusion.

On Wednesday, Senator Charles E. Schumer said the department will now issue grants to cover children with autism spectrum disorder, which will allow them to be tracked should they run away from their caregivers.

The scheme will be on a voluntary basis only, and will be monitored by local law enforcement.

Each monitor costs roughly $85, plus a small monthly fee to maintain.

Via: New York Times

Image credit: Flickr

— By on January 30, 2014, 9:26 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure