(July 24, 2014) - The New York City Council has passed Avonte's Law. The new law was inspired by the death of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo who ran out of his school in Queens. Avonte was on the autism spectrum.
The law requires the Department of Education and law enforcement to check whether all city public schools have exterior-door alarms.
New York City law enforcement and volunteers searched for nearly 4 months until Avonte's remains were found along the East River. The law was passed by a 49 - 0 vote. Schools with pre-school through fifth grade classes will be given first-priority in the door-alarm inspections.
The D.O.E. has a deadline of May 30 to give the council the names of schools that need alarms as well as an installation schedule.
The law's passage is especially important for families of children with autism. A 2012 study from the Interactive Autism Network, funded in part by Autism Speaks, revealed about 50% of children with autism have wandered from safety. Over the last few weeks, there have been dozens of autism wandering emergencies all across the country, three of which ended in tragedy.
Please visit our safety and wandering prevention page for resources and tools you can use to keep your loved one with autism safe.
On Friday, July 25, at 10:30 a.m. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) will join representatives from Autism Speaks, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and NYPD at a news conference to address efforts to educate first-responders, caregivers and the general public about the dangers of autism wandering and its frequency.