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Confronting Elopement
Challenges in Autism:
The AngelSense Approach

The Challenge

Shortly after receiving Tommy’s diagnosis, his family experienced the first occurrence of a terrifying but common behavior of autism spectrum disorder – elopement. He was just under three years old at the time and nonverbal.

 

“I screamed and yelled for John to help as I couldn’t find him. John was LITERALLY looking in the canal between boats to see if he fell in. I ran in flip flops up and down our dead end street screaming his name.”

– Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

 

Tommy’s family safely located him, though fifteen minutes had passed before it was apparent that he had eloped, and ten additional minutes were spent trying to find him. This would not be the last time Tommy eloped. Another occurrence happened about 3 weeks later. Tommy was found 15ft from a main road, looking for license plates (an interest of his).

This was the moment that Jeannie, his mom, realized that she needed a solution. 

Tommy is a sweet, fun and creative boy who lives with his mother, father and older sister, who just like him, has autism spectrum disorder. He enjoys handwriting and watching basketball.

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The Solution

Tommy’s story depicts a commonality in the autism community. Many families experience elopement of their young ones on the spectrum. Whether it’s running away or wandering, many children on the spectrum will elope.

A retrospective study conducted by Anderson et al. (1) estimated that 48% (n = 598) of survey respondents reported their child with an ASD had attempted to elope at least once after the age of 4. Elopement risk was associated with autism severity, increasing, on average, 9% for every 10-point increase in Social Responsiveness Scale T score.

This is specifically concerning if a child is nonverbal, as they are unable to follow verbal instructions to remain with their parents or tell assisting adults who their parents are. 

AngelSense’s assistive technology is specifically built to help with that, by preventing wandering and elopement incidents from becoming emergencies.

 

Runner Mode 

Runner Mode activates enhanced tracking during an elopement. With Runner Mode activated, Tommy’s parents are able to get location updates every 10 seconds, saving every crucial second in case of an elopement. 

 

First Responders

Specified friends and family members are able to be alerted when an elopement occurs by activating the First Responders feature. When activated, a text is sent to people chosen by the parent to alert them that elopement has occurred. 

Runner Mode

Runner Mode

Get location updates every 10 seconds

First Responders

First Responders

In case of an emergency, notify a predefined trusted group

Share Live Location

Share Live Location

Share child's location quickly with Search & Rescue personnel

1-Way Communication

1-Way Communication

Hear the environment around the child to assist in locating them

Alarm

Alarm

Locate a child who may be hiding

Share Live Location

Tommy’s parents can share his real-time location with a pre-chosen group of “First Responders”, allowing them access to Tommy’s live location for a specified window of time, without needing to download the app.

 

1-Way Communication

Upon elopement, Tommy’s parents can call the AngelSense device Tommy’s wearing and hear the area around him. 

 

I turned for one sec in the house and I heard the door slam shut. I pulled up the app and saw he was still in the geo-fence so I used 1 way calling in to see if I could hear my voice calling him and I heard him humming and a toy with bells and whistles. I knew my next door neighbor had tons of toys on her porch — and there he was

– Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

Alarm

The alarm feature can help locate Tommy when he’s nearby in a crowd, indoors, or hiding.

Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

Tommy was Cheeky as the day as long - and was hiding - HELLO ALARM FEATURE! In 1 min I pulled up the alarm, used it and found him - in the dressing room giggling and hiding!

Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

Measurable Results

  • Elopement Duration Reduction: AngelSense has significantly reduced elopement incidents from an average of 30 minutes to just 2 minutes, ensuring swift and timely response.
  • Independence and Quality of Life: Tommy is able to explore independently, including riding the school bus on his own, visiting the pool and riding his bike, significantly improving the quality of life for their entire family.
  • Successful Crisis Management: Utilizing 2-Way Calling, AngelSense facilitated crisis management that prevented them from escalating into meltdowns.
  • Long-Term Use and Adaptability: AngelSense’s 8 years of continuous use highlight its durability and adaptability to evolving needs, ensuring sustained effectiveness over time.
Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

Thankfully, I can say with a cautious certainty that Tommy’s elopements have ceased… and he’s a very verbal 10 year old as well. AngelSense is still, however, just as powerful a tool as it was when we first started using

Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

The Future

AngelSense has proven to be a pivotal solution for Tommy and his family in addressing the serious challenge of elopement. The measurable reduction in elopement durations, heightened safety features, and successful crisis interventions underscore the tangible impact of AngelSense in enhancing Tommy’s security.

Looking ahead, as Tommy transitions into adolescence, AngelSense remains a reliable ally, ready to provide ongoing support and instill confidence in the face of new milestones and opportunities.

Beyond its technological capabilities, AngelSense stands out as a comprehensive assistive technology, tailored to help parents and caregivers to effectively cope with wandering & elopement behaviors, allowing peace of mind for the entire family.

 

(1) Anderson C, Law JK, Daniels A, et al.Occurrence and family impact of elopement in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

When I found AngelSense it had everything I was looking for - specifically because of the fact I could make it non removable

Jeannie, Tommy’s mom

As Tommy's needs have changed we can still use AngelSense to adapt to his needs, more in the realm of independence. Just letting him ride a school bus without a matron on the bus “all the kids” take was a HUGE milestone, and one I couldn’t really have agreed to without AngelSense.

Jeannie, Tommy's mom

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