Is an autistic child worth $85?
Is an autistic child worth approximately $85? That is the question that New York senator Chuck Schumer is proposing to the federal government. Schumer is proposing a federal law, entitled Avonte’s Law, where the federal government would pay the approximately $85 per child plus a small monthly fee which would voluntarily allow parents of autistic children the ability to track the child if the child became separated. While this might seem unnecessary to some, a fair number of autistic children are completely non-verbal or speak very little. If they wander away from parents, siblings or sitters either at home, school or in a public setting it can be difficult for the child to get assistance or for adults to find the child.
This was the case of the missing New York child, Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old non-verbal autistic boy that left his school in October. Despite a large three-month search fueled by social media and the press, the child was not located and his remains were found last week in the East River. Had the young man had one of the proposed tracking devices either on his wrist or his clothing his family would have been able to locate him when he left the school in the middle of the school day.
The program that Schumer is proposing is similar to a voluntary tracking program for senior citizen who suffer from Alzheimer’s and have a tendency to wander. Under Schumer’s bill the federal funds would go to police departments who would purchase the tracking devices and have them available to give to parents who request them.
Schumer stated during a press conference to announce the bill that while we are unable to go back in time, the bill would help to ensure that the tragedy suffered by the Oquendo family does not happen to anyone else.