The Montgomery County Police - Autism/ Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), Alzheimer’s and Dementia Outreach Unit has worked to create what is now a “culture of awareness” in Montgomery County and beyond.

This program began in 2005, partly in response to the growing number of police calls for service involving missing residents who had autism/IDD, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. The program has continued to develop and today provides a “total approach” to issues that these residents and police through education, outreach, follow-up, empowerment, and response.

 

How to prevent wandering and prepare for such an event

  1. Install an alarm if possible. An alarm is a great resource. Many times, caregivers are not aware that their loved one has left the home, especially during the evening and overnight hours when “sundowning” (a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night that can cause a variety of behaviors to include wandering) is common. An alarm is also important during the day when caregivers may be distracted. If you cannot afford a professionally installed alarm, magnetic door alarms are a good option as well. They are inexpensive and readily available.
  2. Reach out to neighbors for support. If you are comfortable, we encourage you to talk to your neighbors about your situation. Neighbors can be a great resource and be a “lookout” should your loved one decide to wander. You can give your cellular phone number to your neighbors or request they call 911 in the event they think your loved one needs assistance. Have neighbor letters (available in English and Spanish) ready. Letters are available in the "Resources for families" section of the page.

  3. Create a 9-1-1-script.

  4. Make sure the loved one has identification on him/her at all times. Identification can take many forms and does not necessarily need to be an official document. Make a durable identification card with permanent ink, have the loved one wear an ID bracelet or write information on the loved one’s clothing. Remember to include your contact information.

  5. Take full-length and head-shot photographs of your loved one. Store the photos electronically so that if your loved one wanders, the photos can be sent to law enforcement quickly.

  6. Call 9-1-1 immediately if your loved one has wandered so that police can respond. Do not wait to call 9-1-1. In some instances, families will first try and search for their missing loved ones without assistance and feel as if they can’t call emergency responders for assistance right away. When you don’t immediately call 9-1-1, precious time is lost which could lead to a tragic ending.

Contact Us

Phone: 240 773-6525

Laurie Reyes
Laurie.Reyes@montgomerycountymd.gov

Tara Bond
Tara.Bond@Montgomerycountymd.gov

Resources For Families

Download the Autism Brochure (pdf)