Fort Bend County program provides emergency assistance to residents with cognitive disabilities
Caroline Bordelon's son Caleb, 9, lives with autism. Caleb is nonverbal and has eloped from home many times. Upon learning about the Take Me Home program, Caroline immediately registered Caleb and said the program is greatly needed and gives her peace and comfort for her family. (Courtesy Hope For Three)
Take Me Home is a database developed by the Pensacola Police Department for people who may need special assistance, such as if the individual is unable to speak or properly identify themselves or if they become disoriented or act in a manner that could be misinterpreted by first responders, according to the sheriff's office. Individuals that tend to be at risk for wandering may include people with disabilities such as Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorders, dementia and more, according to the sheriff's office.
The system includes a current digital picture, demographic information and caregiver contacts. If a person in the Take Me Home system is encountered by an officer, the officer can query the Take Me Home system, searching by name or by the person’s physical description.
“When we encounter a person with cognitive disabilities, it is helpful to refer to this database to know how best to respond and reach caregivers safely,” Sgt. Matthew Hricko said in a press release from autism advocacy nonprofit Hope For Three. “The identification information provided can also assist us in search of a missing person if necessary.”
More than 200 residents have registered for the Take Me Home program, which launched in December, according to the Hope For Three press release. However, about 3% of the general population in Fort Bend County could benefit from the program, the release said.
Hope For Three, The Arc of Fort Bend County, Gigi’s Playhouse and the Alzheimer’s Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter are working to notify and register residents that would find the program helpful, the release said.
Fort Bend County residents with a cognitive impairment or disability that may affect their ability to communicate are eligible for the program, according to the county. Individuals who do not qualify for enrollment include people with only physical disabilities, hearing impairment, vision impairment or anyone who is able to communicate through a translator.
For more information or to sign up, families can visit the Take Me Home program website. All information is kept confidential and only used by the sheriff’s office.