New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Iowa’s Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley introduced S.2614 last week to help families located their loved ones with autism or other mental or developmental conditions who have wandered off. The legislation, Kevin and Avonte’s Law, includes new provisions to provide support for individuals with autism and reauthorizes the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program.
The bill is named after Kevin Wills and Avonte Oquendo. Kevin was nine years old when he wandered off and jumped into Iowa’s Raccoon River in 2008. He ended up drowning. The fate was the same for Avonte, a 14-year-old boy who left school in 2014, wandered, and drowned in New York City’s East River. Now, the bill would guarantee grants from the United States Department of Justice can be used to help prevent or locate individuals with autism and other disabilities who have gone missing. Last year alone, 31 individuals with autism died after wandering.
In 2015, a study was conducted to determine how wandering behaviors affect individuals. Of the children with disabilities, 27% are reported to wander from safe environments each year.
The day after the new legislation was introduced, Kevin and Avonte’s Law received the support of the Autism Safety Coalition. The ASC includes The Color of Autism Foundation, The Arc, Autism Society, the National Autism Association, Safeminds, and Autism Speaks.
At The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., we are deeply committed to making sure individuals with autism are safe. As part of our dedication, we are joining the Autism Speaks Walk in New York City to raise money and awareness. We hope that we can change the lives of those who struggle with developmental conditions such as autism.
To learn more about our involvement in Avonte’s case and Avonte’s Law, click here and discover more.