The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to fund a program that would provide voluntary GPS tracking devices to children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The hope of the program, and legislation sponsored by New York Senator Charles Schumer, is the prevention of incidents in which autistic kids wander away from caregivers and are unable to communicate their way back to safety.
Schumer told The New York Times that the voluntary-use GPS tracking devices, which cost about $85 each plus small monthly fees, will be like those used to track people suffering from Alzheimer's. The Justice Department already provides grants to help pay for Alzheimer's patients' devices.
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It comes on the heels of the disappearance and death of Avonte Oquendo.
The 14-year-old, who suffered from autism, exited his school in October.
His remains were found in the East River earlier this month.
Schumer pushed for legislation to provide GPS tracking devices for children with autism and other conditions, in which they tend to wander off from caregivers or parents.
The Justice Department has agreed to use grant funds to pay for the voluntary devices.
The news comes as new video surfaces of Avonte leaving his Long Island City school through a door that had been left ajar by someone exiting the school.
According to the Oquendo family attorney, it was left open for about a half hour before being closed by a school safety agent.
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Image: School door, via Shutterstock