Avonte’s mother smiled faintly as she listened to Schumer’s proposal, which he said might have saved her son’s life. He plans to introduce the legislation on Monday.
The program would resemble one that Schumer said has successfully kept track of people with Alzheimer’s disease using a computer-programmed alert system. That program signals police departments when someone wearing the device leaves a place where they are supposed to be.
Each device costs about $85, plus a few dollars in monthly fees, the senator said, adding that hundreds of families with autistic children already have used privately funded tracking devices.
Michael Rosen, executive director of New York-based Autism Speaks, attended the news conference with his 26-year-old autistic son, Nicky.
As a child, “he would race across the street to a neighbor’s living room … and he’d end up all of a sudden tearing apart their living room, or he’d be across the street on a roof because he was attracted to heights,” Rosen said of his son. “You can’t turn your back for one second.”
One in 88 American children had some form of autism spectrum disorder in 2008, according to the latest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a 78 percent increase compared to 2002.
Rosen and other experts say the increase is due to better and broader diagnoses, plus awareness and other unknown factors. The group supports Schumer’s legislation.