INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A girl from Independence who has autism is recovering in the hospital Monday night. The nine-year-old managed to leave her home and stay out on the back deck in truly frigid weather overnight.
There's no telling how long the little girl, named Daisy, had been out on the family's deck in their Independence neighborhood. Her mom woke up around 4:30 on Monday morning and noticed the back door was open. Daisy’s mother told police that she woke up to a cold house, got up to see why and saw the back door wide open. A stick used to keep the door closed had been removed.
The girl's autism is severe, so she does not talk and has trouble walking.
FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien spent Monday talking with parents who understand how challenging it is to keep a child with autism safe. Parents of other children with autism say they tend to roam, and no matter what you do to keep them inside, they still find a way out.
Brad Deichler, a captain in the Kansas City, Mo. Police Department is trained to work with people who have autism.
"The only thing I can say is I sympathize with them because it has happened to me," Brad said.
He’s learned his biggest lessons from his 11-year-old son Chase, who has autism.
"He ran almost three miles. He was in his underwear, running from cops who were chasing him, grown men that couldn’t catch him. One of them caught him right before he got to the overpass on 435 highway, or he would have been on top of that," he said.
His wife Leslie says ever since Chase was seven years old, he has been what they call “eloping.” It has taken time to find the magic combination that keeps Chase from running off.
"We went through a lot of trial and error trying to figure out how to keep him from getting out of the house," she said.
They’ve installed alarms on the windows, and special locks on the doors.
"When you open it (a window), it will go off and you can hear it throughout the house. So we have a double deadbolt, and a realtor lock, what we do is lock the top part and we have a code,” she explained.
They also built an eight-foot fence extension because Chase could climb the six-foot fence. When and if their safeguards fail, they rely on Care Track.
"We put it on his ankle because we know if we put it on his wrist he would just probably pull it off," Leslie said.
When Chase leaves the house it alerts the family that he is gone, and they track the radio waves put off by the bracelet with an antenna.
"The closer he is, the faster and louder it will beep," Leslie said.
The Deichlers say their system works now, but they will always have to tweak their plan as he gets older and smarter. Most police departments now have the tracking antennas that work with Care Track. They not only use the tracking bracelets for children with autism, but also for people with dementia.
Police say there was nothing criminal about the case in independence, so no charges will be filed.