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Haley with Chief Saunders

Special-Ism writer, Haley Moss, is an Ambassador to Project Lifesaver (PL).  As a former child wanderer, Haley’s goal is to spread the word about PL and raise awareness of the service PL provides to communities to increase involvement and increase rescues.

Everywhere Haley goes, she raises awareness of PL – locally, at national conferences, at college – and has been a speaker at PL’s conferences.

A Plan of Action

Haley shares, “My mom always taught me about stranger danger and what to do if we got separated.  I was told that if I got lost in a mall to first find a policeman, and if I couldn’t, to go into a store and find a saleswoman wearing a name tag.  If I couldn’t do either, I was told to find a woman with kids or a stroller as most moms are caring and would be willing to help a lost child. Thank heavens I never had to use any of that, but I always had a plan of action in place.

It is a good idea to make a plan for your verbal child so that he or she will know what to do in case a separation should occur. If a child is nonverbal and you wish to keep your wanderer safe, I strongly suggest looking into Project Lifesaver as they have tracking device bracelets and the police can locate your child if needed in under 30 minutes.”

What Is Project Lifesaver?

Project Lifesaver is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works with at risk populations including those with Alzheimer’s, autism and those who may wander due to a cognitive disorder.

PL offers a public safety program to first responders providing equipment and training and responders to locate and rescue at risk individuals.  PL includes search and rescue through the use of radio tracking equipment.  Once a wanderer is located they are generally disoriented, anxious, and untrusting. The PL trained teams know how to approach an individual, gain their trust and put them at ease.

On May 20th, 2015, PL reported that they reached a new milestone of 3000 rescues.

How it Works

“Citizens enrolled in PL wear a small personal transmitter around the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If an enrolled client goes missing, the caregiver notifies their local Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer’s area. Most who wander are found within a few miles from home, and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. Recovery times for PL clients average 30 minutes — 95% less time than standard operations.” (1)

Tips from the Chief

Haley reached out to the head of PL, Chief Saunders, for tips to share with Special-Ism readers.

1. Get everyone in the neighborhood involved and encourage them to alert the parents or local emergency management systems if the child is seen without his/her parents.

2. Make sure there are secure locks on the doors and windows, that can’t be opened by the child.

3. Get the child enrolled in a locating system or identification system within their jurisdiction. If there isn’t one, insist that one be established.

4. Make sure the child is carrying some type of identification clearly indicating the disorder that the child may have, along with contact information.


(1) “How It Works.” Project Lifesaver International. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2015.


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An “Ism” is our coined term synonymous with a “challenge”. Many children, with or without a diagnostic label, experience various challenges throughout their developmental years which are impacting them in the classroom and at home. At Special-Ism, the Ism is our focus. We do not look at the diagnostic label, instead, we look at the Isms and offer solutions no matter the diagnosis.