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Project Lifesaver: Helping Parents Keep Kids With Autism Safe

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It was one year ago when a western Wisconsin boy went missing for nearly a day after he sneaked out the front door of his home.

Five-year-old Scott Meyer is non-verbal with autism, so hundreds of volunteers turned out to try and find him.

For more than 20 hours, volunteers fought through rough terrain and intense heat, before the boy was found a half mile from his home. He was dehydrated and had more than 80 deer ticks on his body. But a year later, he’s fully recovered.

“He’s much more sociable. It’s surprising. He came out of the ordeal much more willing to be around people he doesn’t know,” said his mother Barbara Meyer.

That’s not the only change for Scott and his family. His older brothers also has autism, and after Scott was found, his parents bought into Project Lifesaver.

“I feel I should have taken more time to learn about Project Lifesaver,” said Barbara.

She said initially she didn’t think her sons would wear transmitters because of sensitivity issues. But today, all three wear them on their ankles.

“It’s very fast and it’s very accurate,” said Deputy Sheriff Steve Albarado, who searched for Scott last year and is a Project Lifesaver advocate. He demonstrated the transmitter for WCCO: “As I turn and do a 360-degree I start to pick up an audible tone.”

Albarado said the receiver can pick up a signal up to a mile away, and said Project Lifesaver has over 2,600 successful searches so far.

For Barbara, getting her sons used to the transmitters wasn’t easy, but she believes it was worth it.

“What we went through to desensitize the kids was nothing compared to the 21 hours he went missing,” she said.

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