living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

Project lifesaver

I assume you’ve heard, or read about James, the 7 year old the Nova Scotia boy who followed his dog into a wooded area, and was missing for two days during blizzard conditions, was found miraculously alive,was medi-vaced, and died in hospital of extreme hypothermia.  If you have not the link is below.

James Delory, 7, remembered as ‘nice little boy’.

When reading the story on the Winnipeg Free Press website I read the following comment written by Bensmyson:

Posted by: bensmyson

December 8, 2009 at 10:24 AM

The harsh reality of autism is that it causes death. In the US, one in 91 children have been diagnosed with autism. Twenty years ago it was one in 10,000. As the father of a child diagnosed with autism my heart breaks with the loss of little James. There are no stats on the numbers of children with autism that fall to a similar fate, but all too often we hear of children wandering off in the blink of an eye.

Remember this the next time someone tells you that autism isn’t a deadly disorder and correct them. It kills and seriously injures many more than you can possibly imagine.

And it got me to thinking about what all the implications of an Autism Diagnosis are.  And, today while driving Petra to swimming I listened to a CBC piece on Project Lifesaver prompted of course by James’ sad news.   Project lifesaver is a program where your wanderer wears a bracelet or ankle band and through RFID they can track your lost loved one.  It cost about 7000 dollars Canadian to buy the tracking equipment and about two days to train volunteers or employees.  Ontario has a program, Saskatchewan does not, of course.

So where am I going here?  Well, right here to our family of course, if you read this blog you know me, you know Elijah has autism, and you can guess this story affects us on a more personal level.  Our headline could easily read:

Elijah Anderson, 4, remembered as ‘nice little boy’.

Our son is a wanderer, we lost him once in Chicago, and it was really easy to imagine that he had been hit by a car.  Elijah can talk, but if your a stranger, he won’t answer questions, and put him in a stressful situation and he couldn’t tell you if he was lost, cold, what his name is, who his parents are, or how old he is, let alone, his address or telephone number.

When we moved here to the country we we very afraid of him wandering off into the open space of the fields and becoming lost for days.  We looked into some personal tracking devices and found that unfortunately the technology available for personal use is somewhat dismal.  Luckily we don’t have the traffic issue here, perhaps the biggest danger he faced in Chicago, but we do face him being lost in a very isolated area.  Also, this last summer we’ve been lucky enough that he sticks to our paths and yard,  not wandering towards the roads often.  Though we don’t face a huge traffic issue the main traffic around here is gravel trucks going by at speeds exceeding the speed limit, and Elijah vs. a gravel truck, is going to be a losing scenario. It’s a fear that sticks with me often, when he doesn’t respond when I call him, I’m immediately worried.   I don’t have the luxury that other parents do in thinking  he has to be around here somewhere, he couldn’t have gone far, or he knows not to go in the pump house. I have to think what’s the most perilous direction he could have gone off in and start there.

It would be nice if Saskatchewan had a Project Lifesaver program, but I can’t even begin to hold my breath on that one, I really think it could save Elijah’s life.  But, what perhaps I find most upsetting is that most Canadians didn’t even begin to think that their community is missing this life saving service until they heard James’ story.  A little boy had to die.  I don’t find it alarming, it’s the way things go, things get fixed things after learning from our mistakes.

I’ve been thinking about James’ family, how heart broken they are, and my heart and soul go out to them.  Selfishly though. I do think of how their story could have so easily have been mine, and still could be.  I hope we’re spared, we do all we can to be, but it’s still all so easily gone.

Anyway, not a piece to make you feel sorry for me,  just something I’ve been reflecting on today, as I’m sure many Auti. parents are.


Comments on: "Project lifesaver" (5)

  1. Kyle,

    I was curious to see if ‘pet tracking ‘devices were cheaper (not surprised that the same technology for humans would be more expensive) and saw some devices that attached to a collar and used the cell phone network to track lost pets were under $200.00. This was a US product. Take apart the collar, go on Dragon’s Den, get some cash and become rich 🙂
    We’ve got to keep our little ones safe.

  2. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of James Delorey. Nova Scotia Search and Rescue and Project Lifesaver have been in touch, as well as the National Autism Association, and everyone is working together to get this program started as soon as possible. If anyone has questions on the program or would like to start Project Lifesaver in their area, please contact me.

  3. Erron,
    I have been really trying to slow down a little and reconnect with a few people that I have lost touch with and who have really made a big difference in my life. You for example, who I think of often, but never make to the time to sit down and write to you or anyone in great lengh. I have never read any of your Blogs till last night, and this morning. I know we are friends on facebook and all, but I never really though it was any of my buisness.

    I was glad to hear about your move, again hoping that you being closer would make life alot easier for you. You are such a strong couple, as hard as it must feel some times for you to get going in the morning, you do have beautiful children to share it with. I am sorry you have been thrown some really hard bumps in the road, but also so many blessing have come for you along the way. What a beautiful place you have found, great for the kids to explore and run free.

    I am sure making friends will get easier along the way your are after all a great person. I can never understand how hard it is to try and learn all there is to know about Eligah’s Autism, but WOW it does seem like you have come along way. I know you just take it one step at a time, and celebrate each good step as it comes. I never really understood the extent of Autism till reading your blogs. He is a very lucky boy to have great parents like you.

    I sure hope the midwife situation comes together for you. Everything will fall into place, but why does it have to be such a battle to get it all together in the first place. Take Care!

  4. Jody, it’s a great idea and in fact people tracking devices are in fact the exact same technology. Here’s what the problem is, the device is usually bulky and worn as a wristwatch or necklace, and is generally the tracking device in a wristwatch holder. It would take Elijah 3 minutes to figure out how to take it off. Also it relies on GPS which means a margin of error of about 400m in any direction which is a lot of space, plus it seems that even getting a signal can be somewhat hard in other signal rich areas, or in areas where satellite relay is spotty. The advantage of PLS (projectlifesaver) is that the piece the wanderer wears is thin, is worn on a non removable band, and they use RFID technology that is much more accurate at pin point tracking.


    Thanks for such great support, your welcome to make anything I blog about your buisness. Life can be tough but it’s a good way for me to spit it all out in someway. Mostly though life is good, we are happy, happy to be back in Canada, and we know that in time we will make good friends, for us it can be a little dodgier, it’s though when your little guy doesn’t always play nice or want to play at all. But we’ll find our friends here, it will happen.

    We have found a lay midwife and will have our baby at home, phew. Yes, it does all come together.

    I think of you often too perhaps one of these day on an afternoon where the lids are quietly working on something or actually fall asleep before 10 I’ll give you a call, and we can chat. 🙂

  5. […] while a go I wrote about James Delory who died  of hypothermia after wandering from his Nova Scotia home. Adam […]

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