A couple of months back I got an email from an Autism Daddy reader. He was also the founder of a new autism GPS tracking device called AngelSense.
Sen. Charles Schumer’s proposed “Avonte’s Law” will become reality thanks to funding from the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Justice says it will fund voluntary tracking devices for children with autism or other conditions that put them at risk for fleeing their caregivers.
Schumer announced the agreement Wednesday.
Schumer called for legislation to provide GPS tracking devices for autistic children and others with a tendency to bolt from parents or caregivers.
The senator said it would be similar to a federal program that tracks seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease.
The senator said the Department of Justice has agreed to allow existing grant funds to be used for the voluntary devices. The justice department confirmed the agreement.
Now it’s starting to become clearer how communities can obtain the funds Holder referenced.
Police should go through the same process they typically utilize to seek funding from the federal Byrne program, according to Max Dworin, a spokesman for Schumer. Law enforcement agencies can request grant money to pay for tracking devices and to provide education and training related to the issue of wandering, he said.
“Police departments apply for these every year for a variety of local law enforcement projects,” Dworin said. “Now, essentially, the Department of Justice has opened up this funding for autism.”
All applications must go through law enforcement agencies, so organizations and schools should work with local police to put programs in place,
Dworin said. Police departments that receive money through the federal grant will be responsible for designing and administering their local program and determining how tracking devices are distributed.
Research indicates that about half of children with autism are prone to wandering. Electronic tracking devices can be worn as a bracelet, attached to a shoe or belt loop or even sewn into a person’s clothing. In the event that an individual goes missing, a caregiver can call the monitoring company associated with the device in order to locate the person.
I was on the site for less than a minute when the chat window above popped up on my screen. I could have a live chat with a special needs mom and an AngelSense user to get any answers I might have.
I didn't chat (cuz I'm shy :-) but the founder of the company and I traded emails and then we scheduled a phone call so I could learn more about the service.
Doron Somer has founded the company together with his friend Nery. Doron is the dad of a 17 year old son with autism. He comes from a technology background but put his career on hold and started this company a few years ago as a solution for his son and others.
And just like the chat window showed, they're employing an army of autism moms as their customer service / sales team. These moms were early adopters / buyers of the device for their kids. They fell in love with the device and wanted to be spokespeople for it. They get to work out of their homes and help other special needs parents feel safer. That sure sounds like a win-win all around.
Ok, all sounds great so far, but what's the deal with the device, how is it different / better than others out there.
Well I was wondering the same thing. Doron talked me thru the device and then promised to mail one to me so I could properly try it out.
And here is what arrived.
Some of these pics & videos are from the angelsense website but my opinions that follow are all my own.
So there's this little tracker device.
It's basically like a one way phone with a gps in it. You know how you can use Find My Iphone or Find My Friend to track your phone or your friends phone wherever it is.
This is doing pretty much the same thing.
You preset your home location into it, you charge it overnight and then when your kid leaves for school in the morning you put it in his pocket or in his backpack. It attaches to the pocket or backpack with a little magnetic key. I'm not sure how it works, but it does. The magnet helps you take the metal cap off, you stick it in the backpack or pants pocket, you put the cap back on, and no one is getting that device out. You can see how it attaches in this video.
And then based on how you have set it up it then emails you and texts you when your kid leaves and arrives at any given location. When your kid arrives at a brand new location it will notify you, "In the last 30 minutes Kyle is a place you have not named. Please name it if it is visited regularly." And you click on the link, a map shows up of the unnamed location and you name it.
After about a week we had all Kyle's usually places named and prestored and here is how it works.
And when you get any of these notifications you can logon to the AngelSense site and see a breakdown of the whole day. The time he was in transit, how fast your spouse or the bus driver drove (!), and the time he was at each location.
|WIFEY DROVE 75MPH FROM HOME TO SCHOOL!! :-)|
Then you can click on any of the lines above and see a map of that location, or the route that was taken while in transit
It is a really smart and intuitive device and the website is extremely user friendly and smartphone friendly.
Ok, so what if there's an unexpected departure? He's not supposed to leave school until 3pm when wifey picks him up, but we get an alert that he left school at 11:19am.
Then you go on the site, and you go into runner mode, and you get real time updates to his location (updated every 10 seconds), and you can "call" the device and you can listen in to get a better sense of where he is. The sound quality on the listen in feature isn't great, but it's what you would expect if you had your phone in your pocket, but it gives you a sense of location (at school, indoors, outdoors, etc).
That's basically it. It really seems to be better and different than most of the other products on the market. We have several friends who have devices that their kids wear around their wrist or ankle all the time. But when their kids wander off the device doesn't automatically alert them. They have to know the kid is missing and then they call the tracking company and the tracking company calls the police. God knows how much time passes before all that takes place.
With Angelsense you get notified as soon as your child leaves or arrives at any location. If there's a deviation from his normal routine, you'll be notified pretty immediately and react accordingly.
It really is taking advantage of the smartphione gps technology.
Does it have some drawbacks? Yes. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't mention them.
1) If your kid likes to take off all their clothes and run away, you're out of luck because the device attaches to clothes. (However, Doron told me that there a new belt option that stays on even if the child takes off the clothes. I did not test this)
2) Sometimes the notifications are a little slow. My kid leaves home at 8:02 and I'll get a text at 8:06 saying he left home at 8:02... so a 4 minute delay... that might have to do with my cell phone provider, and 4 minutes is a long time, but it's still way better than most other gps products out there that don't notify you at all that your kid has gone missing. They can only track your kid after you find out from somebody else that he's missing. Also, AngelSense has a special early warning mode for high risk places that disables the smart analytics that filter out GPS errors and assures a shorter delay.
3) like a smart phone, the AngelSense battery only lasts between 12-16 hours. Because of the immediacy of the notifications That should be plenty of time to find your kid. But if your kid is a flight risk in the middle of the night you might have a problem. The battery takes about 4 hours to fully charge. We would take it out of Kyle's pocket as soon as he was home for the night and immediately charge it and get it ready for the next school day.
Again, 3 drawbacks that might be huge for some autism parents, but not for us.
For us it worked really, really well. It was just a great piece of mind to know where your kid was at all times. And to check in and listen in from time to time. Kyle had a class trip to the bowling alley one day and we were able to see when they left school, when they arrived at the bowling alley, and I even listened in and heard the muffled sounds of bowling balls and him laughing.
Peace of mind is an amazing thing for an autism parent...
And knowing that the co-founder of the company is an autism parent and that many of the employees are autism parents makes me feel better. AngelSense promises to continuously innovate and enhance the solution to protect special children. And Doron said that very soon additional exciting feature are coming out. He said "basically, unlike the GPS providers that have a static solution we continuously innovate and the parents get all of that for free. This is really just the beginning from our perspective."
So what does it cost?
Well for a limited time they are offering the device for free, your first month service for free, and then it's $39.99 a month after that.
I know, I know. Another monthly bill. But $40 a month equals $1.33 per day. So if you cut out your Starbucks habit and brewed your own coffee at home you'd have enough money to pay for this....and you'd have peace of mind.
And as I mentioned way back in the beginning. I have a full kit and a free year's service to give away to one lucky Autism Daddy reader from the US only who will be picked at random.
If you want to enter the contest...
Leave a comment on the blog or on the Facebook page with 1 sentence such as "Knowing where my child is at all times will ________ " and add the benefits of that to you and to your child. Add the hashtag #AutismDaddyAngelSense
If you feel like sharing share your "Knowing where my child is" sentence or my blog post review on Facebook/Twitter with the hashtag #AutismDaddyAngelSense.
After 2 weeks we will randomly select one winner from the US who left a "knowing where my child is" comment and used the hashtag.
And if you don't want to enter the contest but still want to leave a comment on my fabulous reviewPLEASE NOTE THAT THE CONTEST MENTIONED ABOVE ENDED ON APRIL 30, 2015
:-), you can still also do that...
If you're gonna shop Amazon anyway, can I ask that you enter Amazon by using the search box above? This way I can make a little money. This blogging thing has been awesome & life changing for me... but I must admit that it's taking up a lot more time than I ever thought... so if I can make a few bucks it'll make it easier for me to justify....Love you all! Thanks!!