Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Tracking Bracelets for Autistic Kids and Senior Citizens 92

The Rocky River Police Department in Cuyahoga County, Ohio has started a pilot program to help find missing autistic children and senior citizens with tracking bracelets. For a monthly fee citizens can get a bracelet from the police department, who can then pinpoint the location of their loved one or object of obsession. From the article: "If someone wearing the bracelet goes missing, a family member or caregiver still must alert the Rocky River Police Department. The person reporting the incident or the police department then will contact EMFinders and give the bracelet serial number worn by the missing person, [police chief] Stillman said. While the police department follows its usual protocol for a missing person, EMFinders will send out a signal to the bracelet. In turn, the bracelet sends a signal to the 911 operator through the Cuyahoga Emergency Communications System (CECOMS)."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tracking Bracelets for Autistic Kids and Senior Citizens

Comments Filter:
  • Daddy, what happened to grandpa? Well son, his bracelet blew his hand off when he tried to sneak out of the nursing pris^h^h^h^h home.
  • by Immostlyharmless ( 1311531 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @11:42AM (#36529352)
    Confused older people with screw and fiddle with it until they break it or remove it by any means necessary.

    My credentials? Nurse on a telemetry unit where 90% of my patients are over the age of 70. If they are confused, they'll pull IVs, Central Lines, Foley catheters that are fully inflated...yeah, brilliant idea Ohio, but it ain't gonna work. If someone will pull out a golf ball sized balloon through their penis, a little plastic and fabric bracelet aint gonna stop em.
    • Will you change my bedpan? I promise not to hock a lugy down your throat as you lean over me.

    • Yah. Five anxious years with an increasingly demented parent made this sound attractive at first. Then I remembered how her regular "safe return" bracelet bruised and scratched her increasingly fragile skin (despite being properly fitted) until we had to stop using it. I think their hearts are in the right place, but a bracelet just won't do it.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        that's a good point, about the skin. It needs to be able to be placed into several different form factor. That way you can match it's use to the patients habits. For my Grand Father, a bracelet would be fine. He never had a problem with his watch.
        But on a key ring for the many elderly that are physically fine, so when the wander off, there dressed and 'ready to go', or something that can be put in a purse or wallet, or even a necklace.

        Maybe even surgically attached.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Yah. Five anxious years with an increasingly demented parent made this sound attractive at first. Then I remembered how her regular "safe return" bracelet bruised and scratched her increasingly fragile skin (despite being properly fitted) until we had to stop using it. I think their hearts are in the right place, but a bracelet just won't do it.

        Indeed, we need sub-cutaneous transmitters to keep those old people well and truly tracked (hey, they voted to track the cars of young people (didn't pass fortunately) I say turn about is fair play)

        • I normally don't answer answers, but this time I'll make an exception:

          Unless and until you've had day and night responsibility for an old person, especially an old person you love and who (once) loved you, there's really not much you can say on the subject. Elderly people with dementia or alzheimer's can and do wander. They become confused. They may be frail, but they can be out of sight in the blink of an eye--into the traffic, into an area of high crime or other danger, onto the construction site next doo

    • Confused older people with screw and fiddle with it until they break it or remove it by any means necessary.

      As someone with a dementia sufferer in the family, I can attest to that. We put key-finder devices on keys, handbag and coat (things that get lost - read: hidden) alot and need to be found. They have all been removed and nearly destroyed, until I discovered hiding them under linings means they don't get found by said person, allowing us to find lost handbags a little easier.

      • That sounds familiar. I don't put tracking on those items, but try to help with the hiding. That way I can find those items again.

        As for tracking a demented person: that can only be done without the person knowing, if that is legal. That means that batteries must last a long time; frequent charging would attract attention and resistance quite soon.

    • Your claim would hold up if you replaced "confused older people" with "children." Those bracelets wouldn't last an afternoon. I can imagine that autistic kids would be less likely to ignore a piece of hardware strapped to them.

      Poorly planned in general. Might work if they passed these out with heavy, heavy sedatives.

      • Trust me, a confused older person can become just as preoccupied with something as an autistic child. I've watched Alzheimer patients adjust their bedding for literally *hours* at a time.
      • I can't imagine an autistic child to accept ANYTHING near them (especially not touching their body) that they don't know without doing what they can, including trying to cut their hand off, to get that thing off them.

        • Nah, my autistic son would tolerate a plastic bracelet just fine. He'd forget it was there in about 5 minutes. ASD is such a broad spectrum of disease, you'd probably get about the same tolerance of a tracking bracelets as in neurotypical toddlers.
      • I can imagine that autistic kids would be less likely to ignore a piece of hardware strapped to them.

        It would be difficult/impossible to ignore, so a different strategy is in order.

        My credentials:

        My autistic son has something similar - [] - and the trick was to get him to look forward to having it on. A week or so before we received the bracelet, we started talking about how he was getting a special watch. He shows it off to basically anybody who will talk to him now, which may be a bit annoying, but is worth the peace of mind should he ever wander off.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Yes, parent who learn to 'warm up' there child to an idea get far better results.

          People who just say 'do what I say' will lead an extremely frustrating and sad life with frustrated and sad kids.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Foley catheters that are fully inflated...

      My testicles retreated after reading that and they're refusing to come down.

      I shouldn't have let my testicles read that, I guess. So much for reading /. naked.

    • by Jeng ( 926980 )

      How about the ankle bracelets that they use for people who are under house arrest? Those suckers are pretty hard to get off.

      • It's illegal to break those and the wearers know that.. which isn't the case for autistic children and alzheimer-..y elderly. They won't get locked up for "another few years" for breaking it. At worst, they'll be seen as annoying. At best, endearing and cute.

        Trust me, given enough time to break it and no incentive not to.. anyone could do it.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @11:58AM (#36529708) Homepage Journal

      nice anecdote. To bad the plural isn't data.

      Also, short sighted. I can make a bracelet that they need special tools to remove.

      Anyways with your issue they are confused and they think they are trapped and want to get out, as opposed to elderly people who just wander off. I would have loved to have this while we where taking care of my grandpa. Too many times I would have to go searching for him. Fortunately most of the time he would just go to the coffee house; where he would leave 100 dollar tip. Interesting note, the waitress where always relieved to return the tip.*

      My credentials? spent a summer learning about dementia from scientists and Drs. SO I could write some specialty predictive software. Of courser that's an argument from authority, and a week reason to assume ones personally gathered anecdotal data has any real merit. It's a common mistake

      *FtR, we would usually leave 20 as a tip.

    • I mean pulling out an inflated foley catheter would probably be like passing a good sized kidney stone.
  • I have an autistic brother and there's no way he'd keep this on. Autistics have heightened sensitivity and many couldn't stand wearing a strap around their wrist all day.

    • Not to worry, the increased agitation of the wearer will serve to make erratic behavior more likely, thus validating the new "security" service while lowering quality of life!

      (Incidentally, I don't even qualify as autistic and I can't stand to wear a watch, much less one designed to resist coming off)
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        How the hell does this even qualify as compromising quality of life?

        • Probably in the same way that a cast you can't remove is constantly irritating to people, to the point that some harm themselves or cut it off.
        • You obviously aren't cursed with the type of heightened sensitivity the GP is referring to. I have it to a very mild degree, and wasn't able to wear socks, blue jeans, most lace-up shoes, or belts until after puberty, and to this day will scratch my skin raw if a drop of sweat hits the wrong way and I don't have something else to focus on. Someone chaining a bracelet on me before I took up meditation would have been pure torture (and would still drive me batty).

          Oh, and yeah, anecdote. Unlike the nurse up th

          • by geekoid ( 135745 )

            True. I was thinking lower quality if life due to tracking, as opposed the tracking device.

            My mistake.

        • You are one of the fortunate majority that don't develop instant rashes when something rubs against their skin. I'm not. I cannot wear wristwatches for exactly this reason. No matter what material, if it was made of Teflon it would cause me rashes.

          It's even hard for me to pick clothing properly since a lot of textiles have the same effect. It's sometimes pretty hard to tell people I do not have a "very unique taste", it's simply that I have to pick my clothes for my ability to not itch and scratch all day r

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Depends on the type and level of autism. Where they are in the spectrum matters a lot. There are many autistic kids who could do this without a problem. The risk is that they don't pick up on certain 'signal's and are easy targets for abduction because they don't realize they are in danger. And before someone replies about parenting and training, don't.

      My daughter is autistic, Aspergers*, and she wears a watch without any problems.

      *anyone know of any good books about girls and Aspergers? By an author who is

      • An interesting read is send in the idiots [] (named after a phrase a classmate would say over and over), which is a bit of a mash-up of philosophy and science. It essentially explores autism - it's a series of anecdotes as the author tries to track down everyone he went to school with. While this is dealing with autism rather than aspergers, a lot of it translates over (I've got aspergers myself), it gives a bit of insight into how we tick.

        If you were after a more concrete, "help me deal with problems" book
        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Specifically, dealing with her social pressures and emotions when she hits puberty, because I got two brothers, and my mom had tubal ligation when I was 5, so my experience is limited to picking up pads for my wife.

          • My (neurotypical) sister swears by Kaz Cooke's Girl Stuff [], which has anything and everything to do with growing up from physical and emotional changes through to social stuff and beyond. If she's one of the people who is fine once they know how things work, then Queen Bees and Wannabes [] is also great - it essentially acts as a roadmap to dealing with adolescent bullshit (the movie Mean Girls is based on the model given in this book).

            If she's anything like me, the best advice anyone can give is help her to
      • Probably OT (thus why no karma bonus), but yeah, Aspergirls [] is pretty good.

    • I suspect my 8 year old, low-functioning ASD son would also not keep on a wrist bracelet, but I'm intrigued enough in this article that I'm going to buy him a cheap watch and see what he does. The form-factor may be an issue. Given my son's level of functioning (barely verbal), if there was a safe implant tech available (and affordable) that would let me track him within ~1/2 mile, and had a failsafe to start transmitting a locator signal to authorities once he exceeded the range of one of the families sm
    • Anecdotal blanket statements like this are invalid. Autism, and I have it, is a spectrum disorder. It effects different people in different ways. Just because your brother, and probably a few more autistic kids, can not handle the bracelet does not mean that thousands of other autistic children won't wear it. The fact that some autistic children will not tolerate it does not men it should not be tried.

  • by drsmack1 ( 698392 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2011 @11:44AM (#36529392)

    That works for tracking everyone else.

  • How long until this is used in the wrong way? Most people with access to the system would never do such a thing, but sooner or later it will become abused.
    • So parents could find them if separated. I heard a story about this two years ago and nothing since. I have no idea of the popularity.
      • Good grief, what ever happened to "keeping an eye on your child"?
        • Two words. Shit happens.

          Even the most well-meaning parent can get overwhelmed in a crowd surge or the kid could decide to tear off suddenly. It's not a substitute for watchful parenting but it can be useful additional tool in the toolkit. It also allows the kid to have a modicum of self-control, since mom and dad don't have to be glued to their hand all day.

        • I was at dizzyworld with my brothers family, so there were 2 1/2 adults to keep an eye on 2 rambunctious boys.
          Nevertheless, the youngest (mebbe about 5yo) managed to get himself separated in short order.(last I remember was him running around jumping on the lights embedded in the paving blocks. Fortunately, he remembered the advice given at the gate, 'tell someone in THOSE clothes that your family is lost', which is exactly what he he did, everything turned out well, non-roller-coaster adrenaline spikes not
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      wrong way, how?

  • Why would I want to do that? Do bracelets abscond that often?
  • In one case the 10-year old girl drowned and the other the other 11-year old boy was found alive overnight. There were media alerts to look for the victims before they were found. Water may have killed the first device or blocked its signal, although its not supposed to. The forensic analysis is not completed yet. Guardians are supposed to check batteries and devices every week.
    • Guardians are supposed to check batteries and devices every week.

      That there makes it unlikely to work. People will check these thing initially and then after a few months they won't check as often. Especially if there haven't been any problems.

      • EG: Smoke detectors. When was the last time you checked it and/or changed your batteries? Do you test them ever month and change the batteries every 12 months as recommended?

        • Probably not, but that's because everyone knows they are supposed to beep when the battery gets weak and usually waits until they do so.
    • by xero314 ( 722674 )

      Guardians are supposed to check batteries and devices every week.

      If Guardians where capable of checking things regularly then they wouldn't need these devices in the first place.

      • by peter303 ( 12292 )
        > If Guardians where capable of checking things regularly then they wouldn't need these devices in the first place. Incorrect. You cant watch someone 1440 minutes a day. These children can still be curious and clever and wander off on adventures.
  • This is a first step for government control of all citizens. Really, unless they got Alzheimers a "senior citizen" does need to be tracked because they are not in any danger of getting lost. But now they are gonna first force anyone over 60 to wear this, then after the program is deemed successful according to some cooked statistics the age bracket will be lowered to 50 and so on. At the same time they will be putting pressure from below, pretty much anyone now can be diagnosed with autism or ad and force
    • So anyone except who the system is specifically designed for doesn't need it? also where did you get the idea that now they're going to force people to wear it? Even the summary says you have to ASK for one and then you have to PAY in order to get and use it. God forbid the government interfere with our rights by providing a optional service in a capitalist fashion.
  • only old people wear bracelets

  • ...You could just get them a cell phone on a family plan, authorize tracking of it, then watch their movements in something resembling realtime on the cell provider's website. That way, when Grandpa heads down to the basement to rub one out, you don't need to start a six-county manhunt.

    Or better, stop playing games and just put 'em in a home. If you don't have the time to monitor someone like that 24/7 (ie, if you have to actually work for a living), you shouldn't have custody of them. For their sake a
    • $4,600 a month for nursing home care. $4,600.

      Medicare beds are virtually nonexistent, or are in the most awful of homes.

      It's not a choice I would casually make for anyone I cared about.

      That said, if you have any family member that you remotely think you'll be responsible for as they age... buy long-term care insurance NOW.

  • Lock grandma in the basement and she won't wander off. Then invest all the money you save on monitoring fees in BitCoins.
  • Wasn't there a Law & Order episode with an autistic kid that had a tracking bracelet but took it off?

    While the idea of putting it on those willing with autism or alzheimer's, if it can be taken off the problem still exists

  • Alzheimer wandering is very stressful for the family, especially the partner. [] outlines the way this works... free for 2 weeks, and the $20 for 2 years. A son living in a distant city can get a call from his grandmother "Fred didn't come back from his walk. Can you see where he is on your computer?" The old Lady just has to keep the phone charged and in his pocket. The watcher can do the rest. You can tell her where he is. For /. readers the encryption and hashing are quite inter
  • The article didn't say the subject of the tracking had to ask for it, just their family members. That's not consent. And if these people are incapable of giving consent, then THEY HAVE NOT GIVEN IT. And that's a problem.

    How about we force YOU to wear one, for your own good of course. YOU may not agree, but all of us here who really care about what happens to you have decided for you. What's the problem? It's a voluntary program--it was voluntary for us.

  • I've worked with these on a smaller scale. The version that looks like a watch for small scale dementia/mental health/alzheimer's locked units. They work great, until you find the watch attacked to the cat's collar, on a different patient, or behind the toilet.
  • To all the "they'll take it off', "it will fail", "Autistics won't wear it", etc get a grip. No single solution will work with all people all the time but throwing a system that can protect 90% of the people wearing it is a good thing. Just because it is not perfect does not mean it should not be done.

  • You can DIY for $120 plus the cost of a cell plan with unlimited messaging. There are GPS cat trackers available that weigh about 50 grams and are the size of a couple of quarters and will send you a text with the location of the device, either automatically or on command.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay