• New bill proposes voluntary program to monitor those with autism, other conditions

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    ORLANDO, Fla. - A new bill introduced in Tallahassee would make it easier for people with autism or other conditions who are known to wander to get electronic monitoring devices, Channel 9 has learned.

    Donna Lorman's 22-year-old son, Drew, was diagnosed with autism when he was 4.

    A few years ago, Drew wandered away in the mountains of North Carolina without warning, something that Lorman said wasn’t unusual.

    Experts say nearly half of all people with autism are known to wander.

    "The scary part is about one-third of those individuals will never be able to tell who they are, where they are," said Lorman, who is also the president of the Autism Society of Greater Orlando.

    She is now closely watching to see what happens with the proposed bill.

    Many of the monitoring devices look like watches, but since many people with autism have sensory issues and can't wear a watch, the devices can be attached to clothing or shoes.

    If passed, the bill would require state agencies like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to provide the devices to those who meet the criteria.

    It would be voluntary, but it would allow them also to register with law enforcement agencies, which could then help pinpoint their location if they wander off.

    Lorman believes that it’s a great idea and could help save lives.

    "Ninety-one percent of deaths involving individuals with autism will be from drowning," she said.

    The costs of the bill have not been determined yet, but funding would come from a Department of Justice grant program.

    In the meantime, the Autism Society of Greater Orlando is already helping families  register their loved ones with local law enforcement agencies.

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