By Erin Wilson
So much has happened since my husband and I shared our story on Geek Club Books last April. Even our name reflects our changes going from QR Code iD to If I Need Help. And we are officially a 501(c)(3) charity.
Our energetic son Jay is autistic. After experiencing his getting lost at school and in an amusement park, we wanted to create a way to communicate for him. Our solution was to make personal wearable QR codes for him and for other children just like him. When the code is scanned or manually entered, a profile appears with a picture, name, contact, emergency and behavioral information. There is also a secure section where more personal information and medical records can be made available via a password. Data can be changed and updated in real time. For instance, when Jay goes on field trips with his day camp I add his aide’s number as a contact and delete it afterwards.
We offer unique codes on patches, pins, clips, magnets and adhesives and membership is free for setting up a profile. We have some amazing stories about those who were lost being reunited with their families because a caring person saw their code and used it to contact the family. The most recent rescue was on Halloween. A mom put a patch on the back of her son’s costume. While trick or treating he became separated from his parents and ended up with another group of kids. The mom in that group started asking him questions to figure out who he was. He could say his name and recite half of his phone number but did not know where he lived. She noticed the If I Need Help patch and used it. He was reunited with his dad in under 10 minutes of leaving his side. He has Epilepsy and requires medication often. The parents were so relieved he was back in their care so quickly.
After months of development, we most recently released ID cards! These are designed for those on the high-functioning autism spectrum who struggle with anxiety attacks. They are custom made with name, phone number and bullet points that are printed along with the personal QR code. We had a young woman who felt an attack coming on so she handed her card to a staff person who did exactly as the card instructed and it worked so smoothly. The iD card and military style dog tags, shoe tags and key chains are for anyone who may need special assistance sometimes.
Editor’s Note: These iD cards would have been such an invaluable tool for Jonathan when he was a teen. One of his first areas of independence was riding the train to school. His classmates attended the school from all over the San Francisco Bay Area, and many took the train so (with practice and planning) they were taught to meet up at the stop and walk to school together. On this particular day, we arrived at our stop early to buy a new pass and of course it was out of order. So I handed him the money to give to the conductor to pay for the ride and off he went. My cell phone rings and it’s Jonathan speaking in an anxious, agitated voice that he made it to school but the ticket price had gone up a quarter and he didn’t have it when the conductor came around. “What did you do?” I asked. He said that he hyperventilated and rocked back and forth…he was so scared that he had done something wrong. Of course the conductor told him it was okay and let him be, but he was so upset over the incident. If he had the confidence of an iD card in his pocket, I just know this “unexpected” experience wouldn’t have been so traumatic for him.
Great news! Erin is offering a free patch for Geek Club Books fans when you sign up for their free membership. Write Geek Club Books in the second address line along with your color choice: blue, green, red, grey or white. This offer expires December 31, 2014.
**Erin Wilson lives in Southern California with her husband Bruce and their two children Grace and Jay. Jay had a language delay and then at 4 years old he had a devastating regression. He lost all language and started spending most of his time running head first into the couch and screaming. The family launched into an exhaustive intensive intervention of therapies and advocacy. At times this was very hard on their marriage but made them a strong team to create “If I Need Help” a non-profit for other families facing the same safety issues. WEBSITE | FACEBOOK |TWITTER