Hello everyone! I am writing to you with extremely amazing and awesome news! We have had two very generous donors step forward to make our mission complete. The equipment is currently in the process of being ordered for donation to the town of Brunswick, Me. We are so very humbly grateful to all of you who did help us out. This has been an enlightening journey and we will never forget it. We feel so very blessed that we are living in a town that will soon be cared for by Project LifeSaver. We just really want to express our gratitude to all those who donated to this cause. It is because of you that this can happen. Thank you so very much.
Project LifeSaver has saved eight more people!!! How amazing and wonderful! What a blessing this program is! Eight more people have been brought back to their families, safe and sound. Thank you Project LifeSaver International.
Let's get together Brunswick. We can make this happen. Any size donation makes a huge difference! It costs about $5 for a coffee at Starbucks. Would you forego one to save a life? A child?
[Editor's Note: Below you will find a very personal but informative guest blog from Sarah Carrasco on the issue of wandering in our children with autism. Please read the very practical, helpful and important steps you can take to protect your family if you care for a child who elopes.
In the meantime, TMR would like to express our truest sorrow and ongoing frustration at the situation our families are facing. Seven children with autism in America eloped and died as a result in May, 2014 alone, and, as of this posting, there have already been three more in June. It is only the 6th of the month.
While we read and hear so many stories about small outbreaks of measles, we here at TMR wonder where are the stories of our dead children? Who is reporting on them? Where is the urgency? Who is alarmed at the atrocity? Who screams to the rest of the world, "Wake up! Our children are in danger"? If ten children in this country had died in the last five weeks of measles, wouldn't there be widespread panic? Shoudn't that make you Think?
In honor of those lost, we will keep Thinking. We will keep fighting. We will keep telling your stories. For America's children. For all children. For everyone.
~ The Thinking Moms' Revolution]
Jaden Dremsa was a 15-year-old boy with autism. On May 8, 2014 he was reported missing from his home in Maine. Every day that Jaden was missing, I couldn’t help but think of the words his mother used to describe him: “He is magical.” Those words resonated with me because I too find my son, David, to be magical. But he, like many other children with autism, does not grasp the concept of danger. Nine long days later, Jaden’s body was found in Lake Arrowhead.
The leading cause of death for people with autism is wandering. Of those deaths, about 90% of children who wander drown. I know firsthand, the fear that comes with being separated from a magical child. On one occasion, my son wandered away while at a water park. It happened when I told my dad, “Watch David while I go grab a chair.”
Thirty minutes of me checking the bottom of every pool passed and, despite announcements over the loud speaker, there was still no sign of my boy. Terror robbed me of all my ability to function. I was bawling. My knees started to give, and my legs lost their strength. People stared at me and walked by until finally a woman stopped. “What’s going on?” she kindly asked. “What can I do to help you?” I told her, “My son has autism, and I can’t find him. He doesn’t even know how to ask for help.” “What’s he wearing?” she asked. “Sponge Bob shorts. He looks just like his brother there, but taller,” I said, gesturing to Aidan.
Thoughts of him having drowned or being kidnapped had taken over, I was incapacitated by grief. I involuntarily sat down, cross legged, sobbing uncontrollably. A few moments later, the woman came back and said, “Get up! I found him.” “Is he okay?” I asked. She laughed, “Yes he’s fine. Follow me.” I felt the air return to my lungs, I thanked her over and over, “You were the only person who helped me, thank you so much.” I hugged her while we were walking, truth be told, I may have even kissed her cheek because at that moment, she was my best friend in the whole world.
“David!” I exclaimed and swooped him into my arms. “Oh my God, you’re okay.” I said, tears rushing back. As I looked around, I realized that his adventure was a mission to destroy the sand castles the other children had built. I was surrounded by angry kindergartners and toddlers. “He messed up my castle!” they yelled, “Get him out of here!” Gladly, I thought.
In the days following, I delved into research on autism and wandering and realized how easily I could have lost my son. I was so angry at myself. In the chaos, I had completely forgotten that he was wearing a tracking device from Colorado Lifetrak, and I could have called the police to have them search. It tore me apart; I was so disappointed in myself. Although I was traumatized, my son was alive, and I needed to take steps to prevent this from ever happening again.
I learned many valuable lessons that day, but the most important lesson I learned is that it is essential to have a ‘Wandering Plan’ established before your child goes missing. When this type of situation arises, a parent cannot think clearly, and a plan is vital to maintaining a clear mind when you need it most.
Sarah Carrasco and her son, David
When David went missing a year later, the school called me at 9:30 and said, “Is David home sick today?” “What are you talking about? I put him on the bus myself at 7:50, he’d better be at school. Check again.” I told David’s father, “David’s missing and it’s been almost two hours.” I ran to the cupboard and looked at the ‘Wandering Plan’ I had made. The first thing on the list was 1: Call police and activate search. I called the police and said he was last seen on the school bus and to start the search. I also gave them the phone number to David’s school so they could communicate with each other. I went back to the list, Number 2: Contact people who are in close proximity to his last known location. I called the school Transportation Department and said, “My son was on the bus at 7:50 AM, and he never made it to school. Go check the bus and the terminal right now!”
As we were driving to the school to look for David, the Transportation Department called and said, “We found him. He was on the bus.” “Are you kidding me?!” I screamed, “It’s December, it’s freezing and you mean to tell me he’s been on the bus this entire time?” “I’m so sorry,” the lady said. “We’re bringing him to the school right now.”
When we got David off the bus, his face was covered in blood. He had been so nervous that he had scratched his face to shreds. It took several weeks to heal the wounds he had inflicted on himself, but eventually the infection cleared, and it left no scars.
My point in sharing this is: a Wandering Plan must be established BEFORE your child goes missing. In addition to writing out and practicing a Wandering Plan there are many tips you can use to prevent your child from leaving the home or locating the child once he or she has gone missing.
Establish a written plan for wandering.
Enroll your child in swim classes or teach him/her to swim yourself.
Install a security system or purchase door alarms.
Install extra locks on all doors.
Access Police Department programs such as Project Lifesaver.
Purchase an Amber Alert GPS tracking bracelet for your child, this is my favorite device, but the downfall is that it’s not waterproof.
Buddy Tags are another option, but they are only to be used when your child is in close proximity.
Talk to your child about wandering. They understand more than we often give them credit for.
Talk to your local police department about your child, and talk to your neighbors if you feel comfortable doing so.
Use the resources available by AWAARE.
Wandering is the leading cause of death for people with autism, and, although we can put every safety precaution in place, as I’m sure Jaden’s mother did, there are no guarantees that the child will return home safely. In the world of autism, the best we can do is to be proactive and vigilant. We have an obligation as a society to protect God’s beautiful and magical creations, also known as children with autism. I will never forget Jaden, and my thoughts and prayers are now — and will always be — with his family.
~ Sarah Carrasco
Sarah Carrasco-Martin is an educational advocate and parent mentor in the state of Colorado. She received her B.A. in English with an Emphasis in Secondary Education from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is the mother of a 12-year-old boy with regressive autism; after extensive research on biomedical interventions, her son is now in recovery. She is an educational advocate for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays. Sarah is a parent mentor for JFK Partners a
MPBN report! Thank you Tom Porter, so much for your time and help! This article made it's way to the "NAA Autism and Safety: Wandering Prevention" Facebook page!
Thank you everyone! We've got to keep going!!!
Thank you so much Ruth Thibodeau! You have brought us another step closer to our goal! Thank you for sharing how important this program is. It is so needed and we thank you, Ruth, and everyone who has donated for standing behind us. We can do this Brunswick! Thank you!
As most of us from the Southern Maine area have heard, the body of Jaden Dremsa has been found in the lake near his home. We are so heartbroken about this. We are praying peace and comfort for his family. I understand that his community has really worked hard and shown extreme support for the Dremsa family these past nine days. It is wonderful to see a community pull together to help each other. R.I.P. Jaden. We are so sad to lose you. Our hearts and prayers are with your family.
We just got back from Orange Leaf in Brunswick!!! Thank you so much to the moms that were able to come and hang out. We really appreciate it! Don't forget to bring your mom out for some yummy frozen yogurt this weekend. Visit either the Brunswick location or the Portland Fore Street store and mention Project LifeSaver. We will get a portion of the proceeds! That us amazing! Thank you Orange Leaf, thank you moms and thank all of YOU!!!!
Just an update. We are going to be doing a fundraising event at Orange Leaf in both Brunswick and Portland this weekend. Sage and I and maybe another mom or two will be at the Brunswick location to meet you at 2 p.m. We are looking forward to it!
All you need to do is come on in to either location and mention something to do with the project and part of your sale will be donated to Project LifeSaver for Brunswick. Just one little hick-up. You can mention any topic or word EXCEPT the Brunswick PD. We cannot include them directly in raising funds. We are raising the funds to purchase the equipment that will then be donated to the town. Thank you again!!! We are very excited and hope to see you there!!!
Hello everyone! Our next mini fundraiser is at Orange Leaf. It takes place on the 10-11th, so next Sat. and Sunday all day both days, IN PORTLAND AND BRUNSWICK!!! YAY!!! Just pop in and mention anything to do with the project, such as Autism, Project LifeSaver, Brunswick PD, etc. and a portion of your purchase price will go toward our fundraiser! On Saturday I, my daughter Sage and some other moms will be at the Brunswick location to meet you at Two p.m. So come by and support Project Lifesaver! Either location! Thank you so much everyone! You are all just wonderful! Perfect!
Thank you so much to all our donors so far! We are grateful! We have been in the paper and on a local radio station. Now we are working on scheduling a TV spot and getting into a couple of othe news outlets! We can do this! We just have to do it together! So thank you!
- On behalf of all of Brunswicks special needs families!
We just had an interview at Positive FM about our fundraiser for Brunswicks Project LifeSaver!!! We will hopefully be aired tomorrow around 7 or so!!! Thank you so much Positive FM!!! You are wonderful! Any early birds- tune in!!!
We are officially searchable! You can look for us under the "community and neighbors" tab on the GoFundMe. com homepage! Just type in PROJECT LIFESAVER for Brunswick, Me. That will get you there! Thank you all so much!
- the McDorrs
I just found out that for our site to be searchable to the "outside world" we need to have at least 100$ in donations. We are half way to this point but it could prove to be a problem if no one can see us. Thank you everyone! Let's get the ball rolling! And, by the way, four more lives have been saved by Project LifeSaver in the past week or so! AWESOME!
Hi everyone! We have all the kinks worked out and now our GOFUNDME site is set up to accept your kind donations to bring Project LifeSaver to Brunswick, Me. Thank you so much Sam Barrett for starting us out with our first donation! We can do this if we do it together! Thank you.
We started this site a little while ago but didn't really get it up and running until now. So hopefully now that it is in working order we can all start sharing this and spreading the word. Let's bring this system to the Brunswick, Me community!!!
This is a new page, despite the date showing two months ago! We have just started this campaign and need all the help we can get!!! Let's do everything we can to get this system in place in Brunswick, ME!!! Let's make this an even safer community for our loved ones. We've got a long way to go, so let's get to work! Hope you will join us! We can do this TOGETHER.
We are raising $6000 or more to get the Project LifeSaver program for the town of Brunswick, Maine. This system will be purchased, donated and installed at the local Police Deparent and monitored by them as well. Project Lifesaver monitors the whereabouts of people with special needs who may have the tendency to bolt, wander or just get lost and cannot take care of themselves due to their disabilities.
The individuals family and/or loved ones would purchase a wrist or waist band with a radio chip imbedded in it. The Police Department can monitor this chip and track the missing person. The success rate of finding a loved one, wearing the band, has been 100% Nationwide. The loved one is normally located within 20-30 mins of notification to the Police Department.
We dont just want or need this system in place for our own beautiful eight year old Autistic daughter, but for all the special needs children and adults in the area as well.
We are raising enough to pay for the system, which is $5000, and to have a supply of the trackers at the police department that are set aside for families who may not be able to buy one out of pocket. Grant money has been exhausted.
Please help keep our loved ones with Autism, Alzheimer's, Dementia, and other debilitating mental conditions safe! We NEED your help!!! Thank you!!!!!!
I worked in the Brunswick school system for 34 years, 8 of them with children on the spectrum. Project lifesaver should be part of the town budget but until people become aware of how important it is and how many people would benefit from it, it will have to be funded by people who care. Good luck.
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