New Tool To Find Autistic Children Who Have Wandered

Pierce County is using cell phone technology and a fitted personal device to track down people who have wandered outside of the safety of supervised environments.

Autistic children lacking a natural sense of danger may go out on their own in search of one of their favorite locations – anything from their local park, body of water or train tracks.

Parents of children with autism and an adventurous spirit have long had cause for concern. Locks can only do so much as children grow, get smarter and have more desire for freedom.  Project Locate, which uses this technology, is providing families a great deal of relief. 

Made by Texas-based EmFinders, the EmSeeQ device works on the same technology that can locate a cell phone’s position. The device looks like a bulky old-style digital watch, works on a rechargeable battery and can be worn on either wrist or ankle.

When needed parents can call the company, who can then trigger the device to ping its location thirty minutes. Each ping will triangulate the device’s location by sending a signal to the three nearest cell towers.  This information is sent to pre-warned 911 dispatchers along with information on the wearer.

The EmFinders system has resulted in 94 successful rescues in 19 states during the past year.

Many devices are on the market for concerned parents – including wrist mounted GPS units and personal alarms that can be activated from 150 feet away.  Project Locate adds the vital and highly time sensitive aspect of well informed Police involvement.

Advocacy groups are getting the word, and possible bulk discounts, out to potential users. PAVE (Partnerships for Action Voices for Empowerment) have arranged a 30% discount for when a family sets up the system through them.  More information is available online at or by calling PAVE (“Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment”) at 800-572-7368 or 253-565-2266.

A similar program, Project Lifesaver International, is currently being utilized by 1,200 agencies in 45 states — police, sheriff, fire, public safety departments and other emergency responders.  Any agencies interested in joining the program can do so by sending a letter of intent to Project Lifesaver International Headquarters. More information is available online at