Kevin and Avonte's Law

Update (February 24, 2020): Autism Speaks is pleased to share an update that grants have been awarded under Kevin and Avonte’s Law, legislation that we, together with other advocates and organizations in the autism community, long championed. The grants will fund organizations around the country that are dedicated to creating safer communities for people with autism, and to addressing the challenge of wandering that may accompany an autism diagnosis. We look forward to seeing the impact of these grants in communities nationwide.

Kevin and Avonte’s Law protects children with autism or other developmental disabilities who may wander away from safety

The law promotes initiatives that reduce the risk of injury or death related to the wandering characteristics of some children with autism.

Kevin and Avonte’s Law is named in honor of two boys with autism who perished after wandering. Nine-year-old Kevin Curtis Wills wandered from home, slipped into Iowa’s Raccoon River and drowned in 2008. Fourteen-year-old Avonte Oquendo wandered away from his school and drowned in New York City’s East River in 2014.

It amends the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and reauthorizes the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program.

It allows Justice Department grants to be used by law enforcement agencies and nonprofits for programs to:

  • Facilitate training and emergency protocols for school personnel
  • Provide first responders with additional information and resources
  • Make locating technology programs available for individuals who may wander from caregivers

On March 23, 2018, Kevin and Avonte’s Law was passed as a legislative addition to the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill (.pdf). It was most recently reauthorized in 2022.

We continue to work on funding and implementation of Kevin and Avonte’s Law.