Project Lifesaver – Washington County

From the Project Lifesaver website:

When children or adults with autism, Down’s Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, or other memory-related illnesses wander from the safety of caregivers, your Sheriff’s Office and its Search and Rescue personnel are called to action.

Now, law enforcement in Washington County has another great tool to help us find and rescue your loved ones more quickly with the Project Lifesaver Program. A search that might have taken days may now be successfully concluded quickly – saving lives and thousands of taxpayer dollars!

Project Lifesaver participants will receive a plastic bracelet containing a waterproof radio transmitter. Each participant’s transmitter is assigned a radio frequency that is unique both to them and to their geographical area. The bracelets may be worn on the participant’s wrist or ankle.

When a Project Lifesaver client is discovered to be missing, a caregiver will report the situation to the Sheriff’s Office via the 9-1-1 dispatch center. Trained deputies will respond at once to search for the missing person using Project Lifesaver radio-frequency tracking equipment.

Project Lifesaver is a voluntary program. In order to qualify, the client must:

  • Live in Washington County;

  • Be diagnosed by a certified physician as having Alzheimer’s Disease, other dementia disorders, autism, Down’s Syndrome or other similar disorders; and

  • Be known to wander away from caregivers.

In order to participate, caregivers must agree to assume the following responsibilities:

  • Test the client’s radio transmitter battery daily

  • Check the condition of the bracelet daily

  • Maintain a monthly log sheet provided by the Project Lifesaver Team

  • Most importantly, call 911 immediately if a Project Lifesaver client goes missing!

Thanks to Angela Bradach for the tip.

iPhone Applications as Communication Devices

Via USA Today

Leslie Clark and her husband have been trying to communicate with their autistic 7-year-old son, JW, for years, but until last month, the closest they got was rudimentary sign language.

He’s “a little bit of a mini-genius,” Clark says, but like many autistic children, JW doesn’t speak at all.

Desperate to communicate with him, she considered buying a specialized device like the ones at his elementary school in Lincoln, Neb. But the text-to-speech machines are huge, heavy and expensive; a few go for $8,000 to $10,000.

Then a teacher told her about a new application that a researcher had developed for, of all things, the iPhone and iPod Touch. Clark drove to the local Best Buy and picked up a Touch, then downloaded the “app” from iTunes.

Total cost: about $500.

A month later, JW goes everywhere with the slick touch-screen mp3 player strapped to his arm. It lets him touch icons that voice basic comments or questions, such as, “I want Grandma’s cookies” or “I’m angry — here’s why.” He uses his “talker” to communicate with everyone — including his service dog, Roscoe, who listens to voice commands through the tiny speakers.

It’s a largely untold story of Apple’s popular audio devices.

It is not known how many specialized apps are out there, but Apple touts a handful on iTunes, among them ones that help users do American Sign Language and others like Proloquo2Go, which helps JW speak.

The app also aids children and adults with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS — even stroke patients who have lost the ability to speak, says its co-developer, Penn State doctoral student Samuel Sennott.

Using the iPhone and Touch allows developers to democratize a system that has relied on devices that were too expensive or difficult to customize, Sennott says. “I love people being able to get it at Best Buy,” he says. “That’s just a dream.”

He also says that for an autistic child, the ability to whip out an iPhone and talk to friends brings “this very hard-to-quantify cool factor.”

Sennott won’t give out sales figures for the $149.99 app but says they’re “extremely brisk.”

Ronald Leaf, director of Autism Partnership, a private California-based agency, says he prefers to help autistic children such as JW learn how to navigate their world without gadgets. “If we could get children to talk without using technology, that would be our preference,” he says.

Clark says the app has changed her son’s life.

“He’s actually communicating,” she says. “It’s nice to see what’s going on in his head.”

Among the revelations of the past month: She now knows JW’s favorite restaurant. “I get to spend at least every other day at the Chinese buffet.”

Blanche Fischer Foundation Grant Opportunity

Blanche Fischer Foundation (BFF) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded through a trust established by the late Blanche Fischer, a native of Long Creek, Ore. BFF makes direct grants on behalf of individuals with physical disabilities. The aid may relate directly to the disability or may less directly foster independence. In accordance with the terms of Ms. Fischer’s bequest, the foundation does not provide assistance for mental disability.

To be considered for a BFF grant, an individual must

  • have a disability of a physical nature;
  • reside in the state of Oregon; and
  • show financial need.

Since its founding in 1981, the Blanche Fischer Foundation has awarded over $1.2 million to nearly than 2,200 individual Oregonians with physical disabilties. We have made more than 100 organizational grants during this time as well, furthering our mission.

Disabled Children’s Relief Fund

DCRF grant applications may be used for modest awards for assistive devices, rehabilitative services, arts and humanities projects, or for efforts to bolster compliance with existing laws for the benefit of children with disabilities. Applications may be submitted by families (parent or guardian) for an individual child, or by a non-profit organization for a small group of children.
Click here for an application. Deadline is September 30th, 2009.