U.S. to fund tracking devices for children with autism, special needs

Avonte Oquendo
CBS New York

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will fund voluntary tracking devices for children with autism or other conditions that put them at risk for fleeing their caregivers.

 A proposal to fund tracking devices was prompted by the disappearance of New York City teenager Avonte Oquendo, a boy with autism. The 14-year-old walked out of his Queens school without being stopped on Oct. 4. A citywide search involving hundreds of volunteers went on for weeks, but turned up nothing.

His remains were eventually found in the East River on Jan. 16.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and members of Avonte's family had called last weekend for legislation to provide GPS tracking devices for children with autism and others with a tendency to bolt from parents or caregivers.

Previous research suggests up to half of children with autism have wandered from their families.

Schumer said Wednesday the Department of Justice agreed to allow existing grant funds to be used.

A similar tracking program exists for Alzheimer's patients.