Stephen Christopher McIntosh is 11, autistic, doesn’t speak and is becoming curious about the world.
His parents Marcella and Stephen McIntosh worry about him, especially what might happen if he wonders off. So on May 22 they signed up for Project Lifesaver offered by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is great because lately, the older he gets he tries to pull away and do other things,” Stephen McIntosh said. “Recently I was in Lowe’s and he took off running down the aisle and that really shook me because he had never done that before.”
Marcella McIntosh read about a Fort Stewart family signing their autistic son up for the program in the Courier.
She said she knew instantly she wanted her son in and called LCSO Capt. David Edwards.
“It’s a safety measure because I always fear losing him and if I lost him how would I go about finding him,” she said. “He wouldn’t be able to tell a stranger, ‘I’m here with my mommy,’ or ‘My mommy’s name is… because according to him my name is mommy.”
Stephen McIntosh was fitted with the Project Lifesaver device in Sheriff Steve Sikes’ office.
Project Lifesaver works with law enforcement agencies and is in use across the country. Clients wear a wristwatch-sized radio transmitter. If one is reported missing, searchers are sent to the area with receivers.
McIntosh said she wished she knew about the program last year.
“We were in Orlando last year … I bought him a charm a couple of years back that says my name is Stephen Christopher, I’m autistic non-verbal this is my mommy’s number, this is my daddy’s number, please get in touch with my parents because I am a child of God,’” she said. “But that was the only thing I knew to do at the time.”
The program is nationwide.
The initial cost is $300 for the transmitter. A $10 per month fee covers maintenance and battery changes, Edwards said.
The captain said LCSO offers payment plans for the initial cost. They are also looking for grants and other funding.
“We were just talking about it this morning and we are trying to get some local organizations like the Rotary Club to get behind this and give us a way to get the word out to the public and also make this available to anyone who needs it,” Sheriff Steve Sikes said. “I don’t want the $300 up-front fee to be a stumbling block for anybody.”
For more information, call Edwards at 408-3106 or Project Lifesaver at 1-877-580-5433 or go to www.projectlifesaver.org.