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Resources for those living with an intellectual or developmental disability who may wander

Posted at 6:45 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 19:17:20-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Resources across Western New York for those living with an IDD, an intellectual or developmental disability, are willing to help families of those with IDD especially when it comes to the tendency to wander.

Some organizations include:

"It can be overwhelming, especially when your child is very young," Renee Filip, CEO and President of Aspire WNY, said, "Not knowing where your loved one is, regardless of IDD or not, has got to be the worst. I can't think of anything worse than that."

People Inc's Principle Psychologist Lizbeth Booth said there's a handful of steps you can take. First : bring in a behavioral health clinician.

"Let's see if we can figure out why the child or adult is wandering," Booth said.

Second: Secure your home.

"Is the fence secure? Are the windows secure? Are there any alarms?" Booth said.

Then alert law enforcement and your neighbors that your child is living with IDD.

"Have a little profile. A little laminated card to hand so that people can see it. Don't touch me. Please don't use these words. Those sorts of things. Any trigger like that," Booth said.

Tracking devices are also available to help back up those preventative measures. Project Lifesaver of WNY works with three Western New York sheriff's offices.

"Project Lifesaver is program designed to track down vulnerable individuals who have a tendency to wander whether that be an autistic individual, whether that be somebody with down syndrome, whether that be someone with Alzheimer's," Dave Aston, the president of Project Lifesaver WNY, said.

Here's how it works: an individual will wear this band on his or her wrist or ankle. The batteries are changed every 60 days. The device transmits a radio frequency 24 hours a day.

"The Sheriff's department, Erie County Sheriff, Niagara County Sheriff, Cattaraugus County Sheriffs they all use a tracking device which is this device here," Aston said.

The Sheriff's office can then use the device to track your child's specific band.

"It gives you peace of mind. I'm the first example where I would just be so panicked if and when my loved one goes missing. My loved one cannot defend himself. He cannot speak for himself. He's nonverbal," Aston said.