Join CafeMom Today! Autism Amber Alert: Efforts underway to create missing person alert for special needs children
AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio for child abductions only! Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are NOT included in the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert. This really needs to change.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Efforts underway to create missing person alert for special needs children

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Ft. Myers mother Debbie Umphries knows just how quickly her son can vanish. It happened once before.

"My husband was getting ready to take [Tim] to the playground," Umphries said. "He heard the word 'playground' and was gone."

It happened in the blink of an eye. When his father's back was turned, Tim left the house. After a frantic search, police found the 11-year-old at his neighborhood playground.

Umphries says it was the most frightening half hour in her life.

For Sheila Medlam, a similar 17 minutes will always haunt her. That's how long her 5-year-old son, Mason, was missing from their Colwich, Kansas, home earlier this year. With law enforcement combing the area, Medlam was the one to find her son floating in a nearby pond.

Mason died in a hospital a few days later.

"We want to know that first responders have all the information they need so another mother doesn't have to lose her child like I had to lose mine," Medlam told WINK News during a recent trip to Pensacola, Florida.

In Pensacola, Medlam has found an ally in her efforts to create a nationwide alert system for missing children with disabilities. An officer within the city's police department helped create the "Take Me Home" program for children with autism. It's a registry that can help locate and identify a missing child with autism, currently available to numerous law enforcement agencies across the country.


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