Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is introducing a bill designed to help families locate missing loved ones who have Alzheimer’s disease, autism and related conditions. Grassley says the legislation is called Kevin and Avonte’s Law.
“We named this law to honor two boys with autism who perished because their disease caused them to wander,” Grassley says. “One of those boys was Kevin Curtis Wills of Jefferson, Iowa, drowned after slipping into the Raccoon River, 2008.”
Wills was nine years old. The other boy drowned in New York in 2014.
Grassley says the feeling of dread and helplessness families must feel when a loved one with Alzheimer’s or autism goes missing is unimaginable.
“Sadly, Kevin’s is not an isolated case,” Grassley says, “but tragedy is not inevitable every time a vulnerable person goes missing.”
Grassley, a Republican, says the bill is being co-sponsored by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat. The bill is actually being re-introduced in the Senate. It passed the chamber last year but didn’t win passage in the House.
He says families and caregivers should have the support they need to keep their loved ones with Alzheimer’s, autism, and other developmental disabilities safe.
“This bill empowers communities to lend a hand and hopefully to turn more of these situations into happy endings,” Grassley says. “It will make more resources available for technology that advances the search for missing children and for specialized training for caregivers to help prevent wandering by vulnerable individuals.”
Grassley says the bill would reauthorize the expired Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program and broaden it to support people with autism and other developmental disabilities. He says the bill would allow federal grants to be used for state and local training programs to help prevent wandering, as well as for locative tracking technology programs.