Just over one year ago Karen Siler of Seaford got the scare of her life when her 19-year old Autistic son Ryan went missing for six hours while on a bus route to his job at Long Island Gymnastics Academy in Bellmore, before being spotted by a good Samaritan in Port Washington. After enduring this ordeal Siler became an activist to make sure police have proper training and resources to locate missing children who suffer from cognitive disorders like Autism, and an event planned for this Tuesday evening at is aimed at further aiding this effort.
The Seaford Special Education PTA (SEPTA) and the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) will be jointly hosting a Return Every Adult and Child Home (R.E.A.C.H.) program registration event on Nov. 16 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Seaford Middle School Cafeteria.
The R.E.A.C.H. Program was spearheaded in large part by Siler after her son's oredeal on Oct. 6, 2009 in an effort to provide law enforcement officials with pertinent information and photos of individuals who suffer from a disorders Alzheimer's disease, Dementia and Autism should they go missing. After an individual is registered with the R.E.A.C.H. program, their information including a photograph is stored in a secure web-based program created by the NCPD. The police also now have a website called the Real Time Intel system that is designed to deliver timely intelligence to law enforcement and can be viewed by every precinct, squad, patrol car and many villages.
"If we had [the R.E.A.C.H program) last year it would have been a huge help when my son went missing," said Siler. "We have made huge amounts of progress since then but there is still more we can do."
The Nov. 16 REACH registration event is being organized by Seaford SEPTA member Roberta Grogan, who said she has been motivated to become involved after seeing two close friends have children with developmental disabilities go missing including Siler.
"Our family appreciates what the Silers went through, and how much effort and courage it took to come forward and do something about the problem, that they became aware of because they experienced it first hand," said Grogan. "When I called to register my own son, who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, with the R.E.A.C.H. Program, it seemed only natural to extend the resources of Seaford SEPTA, of which I am a longtime member, in order to assist NCPD and more importantly our own families here in Seaford."
Grogan emphasized that the Nov. 16 registration event is open to people not just in Seaford but in surrounding communities as well. For further information, e-mail Grogan at firstname.lastname@example.org.