This interview was originally on the mmLearn.org website: https://goo.gl/UuZNUj
Erin Wilson is a Special Needs Mom whose son was lost in the past without the ability to ask for help or provide personal information on his own. Her solution was to create a non-profit, If I Need Help, offering a wearable iD and a special needs registry. Learn how this wearable iD is different from those you have seen before.
If I Need Help was founded to help your son, who suffers from Autism. What did you feel was missing from the medical alert bracelets that already existed, that you hoped to remedy with If I Need Help?
Our system is completely caregiver controlled. The caregiver creates the profile and special needs registry and can edit whenever necessary. Also, many families are on a budget so our membership is completely free and the products are very affordable.
If I Need Help isn’t just a medical alert bracelet, as you offer a number of wearable iD products, like shoe tags or pins. What are some benefits of having other kinds of iD tags, other than just medical alert bracelets?
I always start with my son’s needs in mind because he is my center and heart. Due to significant sensory needs he will not tolerate wearing a bracelet. He does keep his shirt on so we have the patches sewn to all his shirts. Many of the other products were developed from the feedback of the community. Such as the custom iD card for people who do not need the code that links to the profile to be seen all the time but available in an emergency.
The custom shoe tags get the most orders. People really like those. Some parents have said my child will not keep shirts and shoes on. So we came up with custom temporary tattoos. We also have safety alerts on window clings, bumper stickers, magnets and keychains. We try to have something for everyone. Our newest product is a pouch with the iD card info on it that medicine can be carried in. With the free membership you can print out your own code so I get contacted by people of unique ways they are using it to meet their needs.
If I Need Help lets users scan for the tag when lost, with a smartphone or tablet. What are some situations where this might be necessary? What sorts of things can be prevented, using this information?
The original idea was for when someone lost the patch, shoe tag or other item gives notice that this is a person who needs help and then provides the information on how to help. Now this has expanded out to helping people who may just need help during a critical situation such as Epilepsy, mental illness, allergies, asthma, and more. The profiles explain how to assist them.
If I Need Help also allows for the online profile to be updated, in real-time. When would that option need to be implemented? What are the benefits of real-time profile updating?
When my son was included on the 6th grade field trip I edited his profile to include his one-on-one aide as his contact in case he ran from her at the museum. I was nervous about him darting into another room and getting out of sight. So it can have the contacts changed in real-time along with the additional information section as behaviors and symptoms change. Also, many of our members are children so their pictures need updating as they grow. One Mom told me when they go to an amusement park she takes his picture and edits it into the profile so in case he gets lost then she knows exactly what he is wearing and can show the picture with profile.
How can wearable medical ID bracelets help give caregivers peace of mind, for themselves and their loved ones?
I gifted some patches, pins and clips to a special ed teacher and she started crying and hugging me. She said she wants to take the kids on field trips but has real fear of losing them and now this helps her feel better about it. Another time I sent patches to a special needs girl scout troop in the Bronx where the parents were afraid for the troop to do outings. The troop leader presented to the parents how the patch works and she was given permission to take the troop out into the community. Another member, a wonderful older woman in Florida ordered a keychain. She was afraid to leave her house because she thought she may fall. She said she is getting out more because she feels safer carrying her info.
How can other kinds of wearable medical alert devices, like pins and shoe tags, help convince people who might be self-conscious about wearing a medical device?
Everyone is unique and that is why we have tried to create a variety of products. My son needs his code to be very obvious because he needs 24-hour care. For people who are independent and only need it to be seen in an emergency we offer the iD cards, keychains and dog tags.
Your medical alert devices’ primary audience is people suffering from mental disabilities, like Autism or Down’s Syndrome. Why is If I Need Help particularly useful for people suffering from mental disabilities? What are some things that are particularly to elderly medical alert users, that medical alert bracelets can also help remedy?
Autism is a neurological disorder and people with Autism often have normal or even high IQs.
If I Need Help offers a way to wear iD and information. Elderly people often have more extensive medical info such as medications to list in the profile. People who have dementia or Alzheimer’s who need memory care help do wander frequently. Many are then unable to find their way back or provide their contact info on their own.
A lot of information can be communicated with engraved medical alert bracelets, like blood type, allergies, or even someone’s faith. First of all, how can this information be literally life-saving, in the right circumstances? How does If I Need Help’s model improve on the engraved medical bracelet model?
Our custom products of patches, keychains, shoe tags and bracelet have 2 lines above the code and one below to enter what the caregiver wants on those lines. Most often they put the person’s name, contact number on the second line then the diagnosis at the bottom. Then the code is there linking to the profile. We also offer a free special needs registry. The caregiver answers as much as they want about the medical, communication and behavioral info. There are questions like when leaving the house does he usually turn left or right? Can he swim? Where would he go or not go? And more. These are the questions a first responder would ask during a critical missing. It is better to answer these while calm and have a clear mind then when in a panic situation. This can be printed out and kept in house/car/purse or emailed to the first responder during the crisis.
95% of medical responders report checking for medical ID bracelets or devices, in case of an emergency. Keeping this in mind, why should anyone who’s concerned with their elderly loved ones well being make sure they are wearing a medical ID or alert bracelet or device?
Knowledge is power. This will provide the first responder with what the needs are of your loved one immediately.
People who wear medical alert bracelets are found to have fewer hospital admissions and shorter stays, according to the New England Journal Of Medicine. How can medical alert bracelets, like If I Need Help, help elderly patients enjoy their lives and live independently for as long as possible?
I strongly believe in inclusion of people of all ages and abilities. This gives peace of mind to go out into the community and know their info is a click away if needed.
Want to learn more about how to care for your special needs patient or aging loved one? Access our free online caregiver videos today!
What is your solution… If I Need Help wearable iD:
- Is very sturdy and reliable. It is set it up and forget it. Our son has a patch on every shirt. He always wears shirts. If he were to be lost he would be able to be iD’d from this wearable iD. We have a wide array of products for people with different sensory needs. Many people do not want to stick out so much when at school or in everyday settings so our shoe tag would be more subtle and helpful for them. Other people might not wear clothing and run away when naked. Our temporary tattoos can help them. We also have things for high functioning people such as dog tags, keychains, and iD cards that they would choose to show only when they are having communication issues such as being pulled over by the police or getting on the wrong bus and not being able to communicate from the unexpected real world situation.
- Our products are very affordable. Average cost for wearable id is typically only $10 to $15 with no fees.
- All information can be updated in real time by the caregivers as the situation changes.
What about client confidentiality:
- There are two parts to our free registry. The public profile, and the confidential question and answers section.
- Public profile: This is the part of the registry that would be visible when scanned or entered on the website. We tell people to not use last names, or addresses and to only put the information they would be comfortable with having a finder know to help their loved one in a critical situation. This can be updated in the moment.
- Confidential question and answers: The is the personal information of the user. It is caregiver controlled and not seen when the wearable code is scanned or entered on the website. This is the type of information that first responders would need to know in a critical missing and can be updated in real time by the caregiver. The caregiver would have to either print or email to whomever they decide to share it with in an emergency. This information could also be shared with our growing national police network if the caregiver chooses to opt in.
Can predators use information obtained by scanning the wearable iD or entering the unique code on the website
- It would be very difficult. To scan a stranger would be very visible and stand out like a sore thumb. They would need to get within inches of the code on the wearable iD. Most of the people that are vulnerable to this would be low functioning and would always be with a family member or aide. If not with an aide the wearer is lost, in danger, and needs a finder to have the information to help them and get them home safely. As a parent of a child with autism the chance of my child being helped in an emergency by having this information available far outweighs the very low likelihood of it falling into the wrong hands.
Do we need affordable wearable iD and a free caregiver controlled special needs registry? We already fund Behavioral Therapy…
Yes. Our 15 year old son Jay has been receiving ABA for almost 11 years. Even though he has always improved with therapy it took almost this whole time for his elopement risk to greatly diminish. He or others like him could die or be greatly harmed while waiting for the behavioral elopement goals to be met without wearable iD. Also, what if they are in the community and get separated from their caregiver by accident.
- With intense speech therapy Jay has gone from nonverbal to low verbal while this is life changing in itself he still cannot really communicate in an emergency. The main time he was lost he was not trying to elope. At 6 years old after drop off at school his aide forgot to bring him inside with the class. He was standing by the fence scared to death. Anything could have happened to him. A mom passing him knew who he was and brought him inside. We were lucky and as a result started If I Need Help.
- People with physical issues such as Epilepsy, Diabetes and other issues that hinder them from being able to self advocate during a critical moment are also using this system.
What does If I Need Help do:
- 100% free caregiver controlled profile with picture, contact and emergency info. This information is editable in real time as life happens.
- Emergency Q&A This information can contain all a first responder would need such as picture, height, weight, can they swim, are they verbal, do they have a diagnosis, medications taken, special accommodations etc. freeing the caregiver from having to remember all the important details during the pressure of a crisis.
- Emergency email that can send the user profile with picture and emergency Q&A to first responders in the need of a search or other critical situation.
- Wide assortment of wearable iD products and other safety products often utilizing QR technologies with text linked to a unique user profile. The wide variety of products are designed so there will be an appropriate iD product for everyone no matter their sensory needs.
How does If I Need Help work:
- When a wearable iD’s code is scanned or manually entered on our website the member’s profile can be accessed by a finder and the person in need can be helped and returned home.
- During a search or other event by logging into our website and pressing the “emergency email” the members profile, and extensive Emergency Q&A form will be emailed to whoever the user needs to send it to.
Who does If I Need Help serve:
We offer free memberships to people who might become lost, disoriented or unable to self advocate when alone or away from their caregivers. Our members are generally people with Autism, Down Syndrome, brain Injuries, diabetes, seizures, Alzheimer’s, dementia, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and other similar issues.
Where does If I Need Help work:
This works everywhere there is internet access both domestically and internationally.
Why Is If I Need Help Important:
Identification and information is extremely important for a person who is lost or unable to communicate. It can help save a life. Wandering is the only cause of death due to Autism. 60% of people with Alzheimer’s wander. A person having a Seizure or other physical condition often can’t tell anyone who they are or how to help.
How Can I Get Involved:
IINH is looking to increase our free membership. You can help with networking, donating, sponsoring, volunteering, grant writing, and partnering.
A five year old non-verbal boy with Autism was with his family in a giant packed park for a soccer tournament. After each match the teams, and families would pack up and move to another field for the next match. During one such move the father thought the mother had the child and vice versa. After the move to the next field both parents realized at the same time that the boy was with neither of them. Their hearts jumped out of their chests and in a panic they started to run. Just then they received a call from a person that had found their child in another part of the park, and scanned the If I Need Help patch the child had been wearing on his shirt. He was back with his parents in minutes.
Please…don’t wait until your child disappears or you have a wreck or some other emergency…
“If I Need Help” products just might save your child’s life!
Written by Denise Carter
And Then They Grow Up (On Facebook)
It had been such a great day! My son and I had just left a friend’s house and we were headed to McDonald’s.
The light turned green and I pulled into the intersection to turn left. My son, Matthew, was sitting in the back seat singing “The Wheels On the Bus”.
Then everything went black…
My next memory was being slumped over in my car, crying out in pain, staring at my own blood splattered on the dash.
I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t speak.
I couldn’t hear my sons voice.
I couldn’t help him.
I later learned that a young woman was talking on her cell phone and ran the red light. She was going at least 40 mph and her car t-boned into my door.
My adult son has down syndrome, autism, and is non-verbal. I was terrified that he might be injured, or worse, but then I heard his voice and a sense of calm came over me. He was alive and that’s all I needed to know at that moment.
Though I was incapacitated I was alert enough to know that he would need special care because he wouldn’t be able to communicate if he was hurt.
Finally, after what felt like hours, two young men arrived. One of them got Matt out of the car, and to a safe place, while the other comforted me until help arrived.
It took about 30 minutes to remove me from the car and into an ambulance. I received 9 stitches in my head and Matthew, thankfully, was unhurt.
Sounds like a happy ending, right? Here’s the problem…
Though Matthew was pulled from the car and was safe, no one knew anything about him. What if he had a meltdown, had medical issues or was hurt and couldn’t communicate it to anyone? They didn’t even know his name.
I seriously considered designing a product, with a national data base, that could easily identify children and adults with special needs in case of an emergency. I never got to it but someone else did and I am so honored to recommend “If I Need Help”.
“If I Need Help” is a company that was founded by Bruce and Erin Wilson. Their autistic son disappeared several times, causing fear in their hearts, and they knew something needed to be done.
Their product, though amazing, is simple and easy to purchase and sign up for. Just go to their website: www.ifineedhelp.org and select the right product for your child, and there are many to choose from. Then register your child, listing everything that someone would need to know in case of an emergency. Every product has a QR code on it that can be scanned by any smartphone or pulled up on a computer. Some of the products they carry are; t-shirts, magnets, ID pins, bumper stickers, window clings, ID clips, patches, keychains, dog tags and cards. Every child/adult with special needs has a different tolerance level for things on their bodies or clothes so I love the selection!
Please share on your page so others will know!
If I Need Help can be found at: ifineedhelp.org
Rediscover Hope, Purpose and Strength!!
By Special Guest Blogger Mark A. Mulvaney Sr.
In the movie “HOOK” starring Robin Williams as Peter Pan the concept that Happy Thoughts give you the power to fly and truly live was brought to life. Peter had left Never Land and grew up to become a high powered lawyer, a pirate of sorts. He had long since forgotten the Happy Thoughts and adventures of his youth. Until Hook his childhood nemesis stole his children from him. He found himself powerless to redeem them. He could not fly. Tinkerbell reminded him that he had to find his happy thoughts in order to fly again and save his kids. I think that Happy Thoughts are what give our lives Purpose. Got Purpose? If you have purpose you have life and the power to fight the battles of life. Not everyone has the same Happy Thoughts. Peter revealed his rediscovered Happy Thoughts to his son Jack in the midst of a battle to save him. I think he put it this way in a mid-battle pause. Jack, I found my Happy Thought today! With a momentary pause he smiled and said, “It’s you!” New Hope, Strength and Purpose poured out of Peter. Rediscover your Happy Thoughts and Purpose today! Then Soar!!!!!!!!