Rockville, MD, March 13, 2024 – Kevin and Avonte’s Law honors the memory of Kevin Wills and Avonte Oquendo, two boys with Autism who tragically perished after wandering away from supervised settings. The law aims to create safer communities for people with Autism, forms of dementia, and other developmental disabilities by providing grant funding to local agencies. Introduced in 2014 by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the law was passed on March 23rd, 2018.   

Since its passing, the law has provided grant funding to help reduce the risk of injury or death related to wandering through two categories. The first category of funding is proactive programming to prevent wandering and increase safety. The second category of funding is locative technology to help local agencies implement locative technologies to locate and track missing individuals. Each year, 20 local sites are selected to receive grant awards through one of these two categories. 

Congratulations to the Autism Society of Central Virginia and the Autism Society of Greater Akron for being selected as grant recipients in fiscal year 2023. Both affiliates will use grant funding to offer preventative training and resources to their local communities.  

The Autism Society of America is proud to provide training and technical assistance to the sites that receive grant funding through the Kevin & Avonte grant program in collaboration with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability® (NCCJD®). In this role, the Autism Society provides support and guidance to help grant awardees meet their grant goals and objectives. Through the Kevin & Avonte grant, the Autism Society leads a national effort to prevent water and wandering-related deaths through proactive programming, public awareness, and public policy.   

In close coordination with the Kevin & Avonte’s grant program, the Autism Society continues to expand its Safety on the Spectrum (TM) initiative with two key programs:   

  • The First Responder Program works to improve interactions between the Autism community and law enforcement. The program features training and resources developed collaboratively with first responders, Autistic advocates, parents, social workers, and other community leaders.   
  • The Water and Wandering program connects the Autism community to the education and resources they need to increase the safety of those with Autism. Through this program, the Autism Society offers training on how local aquatic programs can adopt a tailored approach to teaching critical water-safety skills to individuals with Autism. Using evidence-based practices, the program also offers a wide variety of safety resources for Autistic individuals and their families to prevent wandering.    

Because living fully means living safely, the Autism Society’s work to increase water safety and prevent wandering is critical for maximizing the quality of life for the Autism community.  The Autism Society is committed to increasing education and training across the Autism community to decrease the tragic loss of life caused by wandering-related accidents.