GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - According to the Centers for Disease Control, 67 children are diagnosed with some form of autism every day.
Some children on the spectrum have a tendency to wander or run away, but for one family the ability to manage is now a lot easier thanks to a tracking device that their son wears.
For Cullian Hall and his son Carl, he says this ankle tracker is one of their favorites because it's a partnership with the Gaston County Sheriff's Office and it makes this family feel like its a community effort in keeping their son safe.
"This is the Project Lifesaver one,” Cullian said as he showed FOX 46 the quarter-sized bracelet that fits snug around his son’s ankle.
It’s one extra tool to keep Carl safe.
"I want people to be aware of what tracking is available for the kids,” Cullian said.
Carl is 16 and has autism. He's non-verbal and likes to wander. His parents say the first time he ever went missing he was a toddler. He was found walking along the yellow lines in the middle of a road.
But now, with tracking devices like this he's able to be found within minutes.
“If he goes missing they're able to find him within 30 minutes we could call 911 tell them he's a project life save client, and they have radio direction and can find them,” said Cullian.
The tracker works like a cell phone and uses towers to pinpoint Carl’s location.
Many members of the greater-Charlotte community remember last September when six-year-old Maddox Ritch, who had autism, was found dead in a lake. Cullian told FOX 46 that’s when it hit home what could happen to his son
“I’d seen kids going missing and a lot of times there found and sometimes it's not a good outcome," he said.
Carl’s brother often worries about what could happen as well.
“He could easily get away if someone wasn't watching him the same thing could happen to him,” Cullian Jr. said.
Carl’s tracker is provided by Project Lifesaver (https://projectlifesaver.org/) through the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office.
Cullian says its also a good way for him to meet local law enforcement who might end up needing to help his son.
“The sheriff's deputy comes by once a month to put a battery in it, they know him and he's used to them," Cullian said.
The whole family appreciates the huge help and peace of mind the tiny device brings.
“They understand what we're going through and they're here to help us and it's very comforting,” Cullian Jr. said.