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Project Lifesaver International (PLI) Provides Rapid Response for Wandering Adults and Children with Developmental and Cognitive Disabilities, Special Needs

August 30th, 2011

Founded by Public Safety Officers, Project Lifesaver International (PLI), is an organization whose sole mission is to provide a timely response to save the lives of adults and children with Autism, Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome, Dementia, and other conditions, who wander. Started in 1999, PLI has offered public outreach programs to educate others about wandering. They have also provided equipment, training, certification and support to law enforcement and public safety officials through the country. These trainings include in-depth information on the use of specialized electronic search and rescue equipment technology and most importantly, how to communicate with people with cognitive or developmental conditions. PLI has over 1200 agencies in 45 participating states. They have performed 2,421 searches in the last 11 years with no serious injuries or fatalities ever reported.

How it works:

  • If you are a family member or a caregiver of a loved one that wandersCall (757) 546-5502 or contact your local agency to enroll your loved one in Project Lifesaver to receive a small personal transmitter (which can be worn around an ankle or wrist) which emits an individualized tracking signal. If a registered client goes missing, the caregiver notifies their local Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer’s area. The recovery time for a person wearing a transmitter is approximately 30 minutes, (95% less time than a standard operational procedure).

Typical costs to enroll will vary by agency and location.   Ask your local agency if they participate in grant funding to find out about wristbands at discounted rates or at no charge.

  • If you are an agency that would like to receive Project Lifesaver training: Submit a letter of intent to PLI. A sample letter of intent can be found here. Training can include two days of on-site instruction (for up to 15 people in your agency), provided by a State Coordinator or by PLI’s own staff. Each new agency will also receive training on Alzheimer’s, Autism, and other disorders, to help when responding to a missing client. Costs may vary on agency and location.

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Study Confirms Environmental Factors In Autism Development

August 16th, 2011

A new study, Genetic Heritability and Shared Environmental Factors Among Twin Pairs With Autism, released by the United States National Institutes of Health confirms that environmental factors play a huge role in the exponential rise in autism rates, and that previous efforts to prove that genes alone cause autism have been overstated.

“Increasingly, evidence is accumulating that overt symptoms of autism emerge around the end of the first year of life,” the researchers wrote. “…[W]e hypothesize that at least some of the environmental factors impacting susceptibility to autism exert their effect during this critical period of life.”

Autism rates have exploded since the 1980s, when one in 10,000 children developed autism. Now, one in every 110 children is likely to develop autism, according to the CDC. Researchers have been trying to locate a gene in the human body that acts as a “switch” to turn on the disorder, but have been largely unsuccessful. Advocacy groups like the National Autism Organization say that a genetic cause cannot fully explain the massively increased rates of the disorder, and that environmental factors are likely to play a major role.

Some studies have sought to tie the increasing autism rates to vaccinations that most infants receive. These studies have been inconclusive, and fraudulent in one famous case, but may receive revived interest based on the NIH study.

The Combating Autism Act, passed by Congress in 2006, directed the NIH to research any possible environmental causes of autism. But in 2009, only 9 percent of research funding was spent on environmental causation, according to the National Autism Association.

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Americans With Disabilities Experiencing Record Unemployment Rate

August 9th, 2011

Unemployment among persons with disabilities spiked in the second quarter of 2011, and continues to outpace the unemployment rate for other workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The jobless rate for Americans with disabilities is now 16.9 percent, up from 15.6 percent in May and tied with the record for the highest rate set in August 2009. The data covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in an institution.

This statistic erases the gains seen in April 2011, when unemployment dropped for the first time since January. The U.S. Department of Labor began tracking unemployment for Americans with disabilities in 2008. The first employment report was issued in February 2009, and are now released monthly.

Americans with disabilities are experiencing a jobless rate more than 80 percent higher than the rest of Americans, who are currently at 9.2 percent. The study also reported that 44.4 percent of disabled individuals who were unemployed in June had been jobless for 27 weeks or more.

The average number of Social Security applications per month is also now more than 300,000, up from an average of 200,000 before 2008, according to the United States Social Security Administration. This represents an increase of more than 27 percent from a year ago. The average cumulative wait time is now more than 700 days.

President Barack Obama announced on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in late July that the federal government would improve compliance with Section 508, which requires that federal agencies’ technology be accessible to people with disabilities. Section 508 ensures that Americans with disabilities have equal access to federal job opportunities, requires the government provide the proper technology to let them perform their duties, and makes information more easily accessible.

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