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GPS Devices for Elopement of People With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities: A Review of the Published Literature

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Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities

Published online on


Elopement, sometimes referred to as absconding, is defined as leaving an area without supervision or carer permission. Global positioning systems (GPS) have been proposed as an intervention for elopement to provide the geographical position of a person who has eloped so that he/she can be located. The authors reviewed the evidence for the use of GPS as an intervention for elopement in people with autism and other developmental disabilities. They found few studies that explored the practicalities of GPS device use among carers of persons with developmental disabilities (most studies have been with carers of people with dementia) and even less research that focused on the testing of the functionality of GPS devices to locate cognitively‐impaired persons. They conclude that this forces the existing empirical research to be sidelined in favor of non‐evidence‐based situational management strategies, of which the use of GPS devices is potentially a viable one. They also note that the results have important implications for policy and practice as there is little evidence to support the widespread recommendation that GPS devices are an effective intervention to prevent risk associated with elopement.