Study Reveals Benefits of GPS Tracking Devices for Autism Children

12 Jul 2017

According to survey results, tracking devices using Bluetooth, radio or GPS technology have been found to reduce the frequency of wandering behavior in children with autism and other developmental disorders significantly and the associated risks. They also reduce anxiety in the parents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report showing that one in 68 children in the United States have the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is a 30 percent increase from years ago where it was 1 in 88.

According to this report, there are over 4.5 times the amount of boys (1 in 42) with ASD than girls (1 in 189).

Researchers conducted an anonymous questionnaire online to assess how the devices impact the families with children with ASD. The survey was distributed to families and autism organizations and provided important information to the researchers about developmental diagnoses and how severe they are as well as the demographics, past wandering behavior and methods used to prevent it.

The CDC’s director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Coleen Boyle, said they look at all autism characteristics.

She says they look at the age the children are identified and their earliest diagnosis. They look to see if they have any co-occurring conditions or other developmental disabilities. They also look to see if they have any intellectual disability (IQ).

The participants also included their tracking device use information. Participants who chose not to use a device answered questions regarding their past year’s quality of life. Those who opted to use devices provided information about their quality of life prior to using the devices and after using them. The collected information also included participants who lived in the U.S. who were between 4 and 18 years old and had an ASD diagnosis (1,345).

Around 23.8 percent of the surveyed participants had implemented over one device, according to results. Their top reason for buying the device was to give them peace of mind.

Device use also affected the parent’s decision about where their kids with ASD can spend their time when no parents were available (87.1 percent). Only 60 percent of parents who used a device said they worried about this. In around 95.6 percent of the surveys, researchers found an improved quality of life after device use.

Professionals and parents have started to become more aware over the recent years of the risks associated with wandering by kids with ASD as well as the limits imposed on activities and the emotional toll placed on families, according to Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center’s Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP and chief of the Center’s developmental and behavioral pediatrics.

Due to the extent of parental concerns and safety risks, it’s essential that evidence-based solutions are found and implemented to reduce the chances of injury to kids with ASD and keep parents from having to worry as much.




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