Southern California

Proposed State Senate Bill Would Create Alert for People with Autism

A senate bill would expand the current Silver Alert system to include people with autism

For one Southern California family who had an autistic teen go missing for three weeks, an Amber Alert-type system for people with autism would be a blessing.

Eighteen-year-old Romario Snow saw something and wandered away from his family last month while shopping with them in Chinatown. He went missing for nearly three weeks.

"I was scared a little bit ... I couldn't find my family," Romario Snow said. "I was homeless."

He said he vaguely remembers the nights alone he spent wandering the streets of Los Angeles County, sleeping in trees and parks while he was gone. 

The family went to police but said they were of little help, so they turned to the autistic community to help spread the word.

When Snow's mother and sister found him on a street corner in Venice on July 17, he was in bad shape.

"(He was) all dirty and he had a punch in his eye, a bruise on his nose and parts of his body," said Fiorella Snow, Romario's sister.

Since then, Romario Snow has been fitted with a GPS tracker by an autism advocacy group, who said this is a recurring problem.

"No more running away," Romario Snow said.

Autism advocacy groups say that the number one problem with children who have the disorder is wandering. 

A current bill being debated in the State Assembly would expand the current Silver Alert system used to alert people immediately of missing people over age 65 to include people with autism.

"With children with severe autism, it's definitely life or death," said Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, executive director of ACT Today.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committe on Aug. 6. 

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