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Dachel Media Update:

Remembering Avonte Oquendo: Tackling Autism Safety

Avonte memorial
On October 4, 2013, Avonte Oquendo eloped from his autism school in Queens, New York and vanished into thin air.  His remains were found in January, in the icy waters of The East River.

Avonte was just one of many children, from tots to teens, who has died as a result of his or her autism. Safety is of paramount important in our community. There are orgs trying to promote safety, encourage programs and spread the world that autism is indeed deadly - from the outside in, which is to say, every bit as deadly as some cancers.

Big red toolbox

Our friends at National Autism Association are leading the way in safety with their Big Red Safety Box program.  That program is currently "open" for families to apply for a FREE safety kit.   Kits are available on a first come, first served basis and include:

1) Our Get REDy booklet containing the following educational materials and tools:

         A caregiver checklist
         A Family Wandering Emergency Plan
         A first-responder profile form
         A wandering-prevention brochure
         A sample IEP Letter
         A Student Profile Form

2) Two (2) Door/Window Alarms with batteries

3) One (1) RoadID Personalized, Engraved Shoe ID Tag*

4) Five (5) Laminated Adhesive Stop Sign Visual Prompts for doors and windows

5) Two (2) Safety Alert Window Clings for car or home windows

6) One (1) Red Safety Alert Wristband

Click HERE to apply for a kit or to make a donation to this life saving program. Thank you.



This child died due to the negligence of school staff, none of whom have been fired for their part in this innocent child's death. That is incredibly difficult for any parent of a school aged child who entrusts their child to a school system to wrap their mind around.

Beloved Avonte was a student in NYC Dept of Education's District 75, the district that serves students with the most severe needs.

I am not at all surprised that something like this happened under the watch of Gary Hecht, superintendent of the snakepit that is District 75. Horror story after horror story, year after year, it is always business as usual for them.

How very disrespectful to the family and to the memory of this sweet child whose body parts were collected from the river three months later without so much as an apology to the family from any of those school personnel involved!!

Not firing those turds, from the ridiculously overpaid high level administrator at D75, all the way down to the low level employees involved in Avonte's death is symptomatic of a culture of callousness, corruption, and lack of accountability in the NYC Dept of Ed that unfortunately, has been under mayoral control since 2002. School board members are appointed, not elected. Consequently, special needs children continue to suffer and parents have lost their voice and more than a few have literally lost their children.

When a child, particularly an innocent among innocents like Avonte, dies under suspicious circumstances due to the negligence of those who were entrusted to watch over him, when those who should be held responsible continue to be entrusted with the lives of more vulnerable, special needs children while the family of Avonte is left to grieve for a child that they must suspect was probably abducted and murdered, you have to wonder just how close we have become to being a civilization that has almost completely unraveled.

Emily Ilande

Mary Volpe and others may also be interested in BE SAFE The Movie, a video modeling tool made by and for young adults with ASD and similar disabilities. BE SAFE shows what to do in different encounters with police. Video modeling can benefit people of all verbal and cognitive abilities, and a companion curriculum offers a lot of additional teaching materials with wide appeal. Besides training police about autism, we can help our children/teens/adults learn to be safe, too! Check out

mary volpe

Our 25 year old son who has autism, has always been on our minds when it comes to his safety when with us, but mostly when he is out in public. His strange behavior and large size can easily be misconstrued, and might appear that he is dangerous, on drugs etc. We worry that he might be shot by a policeman, who will ask questions after the fact. Due to his lack of communication, which is more like a 4 year old, he is not easily understood, and his comprehension and cognitive abilities are very compromised. This problems causes us issues at home, but we know him and his idiosyncrasies, unlike strangers who may not even know anything useful about autism. Very scary, and police need as much training as is possible to learn how to deal with disabled and mentally ill persons!

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