by A is for Apple, Inc. | Jan 06, 2016

What to Do about Wandering Off: Safety Tips & Tracking Devices


None of us want children to wander off, but sometimes it happens.  Because child safety is so important, we’re starting off 2016 discussing it.  The good news is—there ARE things you can do right now.  Both to keep your child safe, and to help you find a child who’s wandered off.

General Safety Tips to Prevent Wandering

  • Secure your home.  Locks on all doors and windows, a security alarm system with open-door alerts, and a fence around your yard all help to prevent children from wandering away.
  • In crowded areas like stores and sidewalks, always keep your child within arm’s length.  If they are younger, encourage your child to hang onto your purse strap, pants pocket, or hand while in public.
  • Talk to your neighbors.  Tell them about any fears your child has, if they will respond to their name or not, and what to do if they see your child out alone.
  • Create a handout with information about your child.  Include a description, photo, your name, address and phone number.  Keep these in your car, purse and wallet.  If your child does wander, you can give these to safety personnel as a quick reference.

Many of these tips you already know, and have likely done.  Great!  Prevention is always best.

Now, let’s talk about ways to find your child if they do wander.

Tracking Devices to Help You Find Your Child If They Wander

When children wander off, they often get scared and have trouble communicating.  If this happens to a nonverbal child, they can’t explain where they’re from at all.

If this happens, the best way to help them is to track them.  With a wearable tracking device.  Wearable devices have one purpose:  Help you find where a wandering child is.

Most wearables use GPS technology to pinpoint where someone is.  You use this technology in your car; it works just as well to find a wandering child.

All you need is a wearable that sends a GPS signal, and a way to locate that signal.  Here are resources to help you do exactly that.

The first is the TRiLOC GPS Locator from iLoc Technologies.  A GPS tracker worn like a watch, this device has won awards for putting technology to important use.  You can use any computer to locate the TRiLOC.  It also has an “SOS” button which sends an alert when pressed—and starts a voice call right away, so your child can tell you where they are.

More Tracking Tools: “ID Clothing” and Phone-Scannable Pins

If your child doesn’t like things on their wrists, you still have tracking options!

First, there’s clothing with pockets for a GPS tracker. This way you can still use a GPS tracking device, but it’s someplace where your child won’t fiddle with it all day. Turning their clothing into unique identification.

A great place to find this clothing is Independence Day Clothing. Every article of clothing contains a pocket for a GPS tracker. Slip in a tracker from one of the suppliers listed below, and you have “ID Clothing”!

7 Tracking Devices to Find a Lost Child with Autism – Here’s a list of wearable devices for tracking someone who’s wandered off.

Next, there’s a wonderful service called If I Need Help. The organization gives you both products and tracking help.

“If I Need Help” does NOT use a GPS device. Instead, they give you a choice of items with a QR code on them: a patch for their jacket, a shoe tag, an ID card, a pin on their shirt, a bag clip, and more.

If someone encounters a child who’s wandered? They scan the QR code with their phone, and get information on how to help the child. Even if your child cannot communicate, this product does for them.

We hope this information proves helpful to you. One of our standing commitments is to help you keep your child safe, happy, and thriving.

See you next month!

Local Events: Sensory-Friendly Star Wars!


Does your child want to see the new Star Wars? Take them to a Sensory-Friendly Film this month!

AMC Theaters are running 2 Sensory-Friendly showings of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” this month. These are the showtimes:

Saturday, January 9 at 10 am – AMC Bay Street 16 in Emeryville.

Tuesday, January 12 at 7pm – AMC Cupertino Square 16 in Cupertino.

Please note the following from AMC Theaters: “Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks or face paint. In short, bring your lightsaber, turn it off during the movie, and leave the blaster and Darth Vader mask at home.”

See our September issue of “Thrive” for more on sensory-friendly films.

Autism Tips: Daily Routines – Hair Care

For the next few issues of “Thrive,” we’ll devote our Autism Tips section to discussing Daily Routines – getting dressed, haircuts, brushing teeth, etc.

Routines are extremely valuable to children with autism.  They thrive on the predictability.  Knowing what’s coming up gives them confidence and comfort.

To make and stick to a daily routine, we often encourage the creation of a daily schedule.  A great way to make a schedule is through picture cards.  The picture cards show images of the things to do and places to go for the day.

Of course, change is inevitable.  If you have something that doesn’t happen every day, make up a picture card for the event.  Or use a “question card” – a picture card with a question mark on it ( ? ) so you can explain to your child what will happen.

Daily Schedule vs. Regular Event – Hair Brushing and Haircuts

For our first discussion, let’s talk about hair care.  There’s a daily task—your child brushing his/her hair.  We also have a regular, but not daily event—going to get a haircut.

You can add brushing hair to their morning schedule.  Children like to brush their hair.  It’s soothing, an enjoyable tactile experience, and part of getting ready for the day ahead.

However, going to get a haircut can scare your child.  It’s a new environment, there’s unfamiliar noise, and something sharp is near their head!

To prepare the child, show them a picture card and explain what’s coming up.  If you have a photo of them getting a haircut before, put that on the card.  If not, use the “question card” or show them images of other children getting haircuts.

Bring along a toy or book you know calms the child, in case they start to cry or wiggle.  Most kid’s hairstylists have a good eye for this, and will move the scissors away to avoid accidents.

When the haircut’s finished, remind them they can brush their hair again later.  This returns them to their daily routine, which should reassure them.

How did your child handle their last trip to the hairstylist?  Please share your stories on our Facebook Page:

Ask A is for Apple

“Dear A is for Apple,
How does the IEP Process work? How am I involved? What can I do?”

This is a big question, with many elements involved.  We’re happy to answer it, but we’ll split it into 2 issues, this month’s and next month’s.

First, let’s run through how the IEP process works overall.

An IEP (Individual Education Plan) is a special education plan tailored to your child’s needs.  It may also involve additional services like SLP (speech-language pathology) or OT (occupational therapy).

It all starts with a request.  You or a school requests an evaluation for your child.  The evaluation is to see if your child has a disability, understand their strengths & weaknesses, and make educational decisions for their future.

Part of the evaluation is an assessment.  This includes tests, medical reports, observations & interviews.  You’ll be asked questions about your family, home environment, and the child’s behavior.

The evaluation results will show if your child needs special education.  Using the results, a group determines the child’s eligibility for special education & related services. 

If the eligibility decision meets your child’s needs, a team will write an IEP for the child.  You are part of this team.

Before the team meeting, we advise reviewing all of the following information:

  • What the child can do (strengths)
  • The evaluation results
  • The child’s academic needs
  • Your concerns (document & bring)
  • Functional needs – the routine activities in your everyday lives

That way you’re up to speed and ready to make decisions.

In the process of writing the IEP, the team will discuss:

  1. What to do when behavior affects learning
  2. The “least restrictive environment” for your child’s learning
  3. Language & communication needs
  4. Assistive technology needs
  5. Annual goals and long-term objectives

Using all of this, the right placement is determined.  Special education is a program, not a place.  After the IEP team determines goals, they’ll talk about where the needed services are provided.  Services may take place in your home, at school, or at a provider facility like ours.

Once placement is arranged, that’s it!  The IEP process is now set up and ready to go.  Your child will begin receiving their individualized education plan.

Next time we’ll discuss how you as parents are involved in the IEP process, and what your rights are.

Do you have a question you’d like answered?  Please email it to us at for inclusion in a future newsletter.

Inside A is for Apple

Results of the 2015 Toy Drive

We started a toy drive in December to help the South Bay community.  Thanks to the generosity of parents, A is for Apple employees and local friends, we collected 50 toys, gift cards and articles of clothing.

The donations included sporting equipment, stuffed animals, a child’s basketball hoop, and assorted clothing for children ranging from toddlers to young adults.

When we took the donations to Sacred Heart, we met with extremely happy volunteers.  When they saw what we’d brought, many excitedly pointed out how helpful the young adult clothing and sporting equipment were.  They don’t often receive donations for older children; everything we brought was sure to give some children a Merry Christmas.

Thank you to everyone who donated!

By |2018-11-29T00:39:43+00:00January 21st, 2016|Thrive|0 Comments

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