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How to Search for and Protect Children on the Autism Spectrum

This webinar includes NCMEC Search and Rescue experts, and our partner Lori McIlwain, Co-founder of the National Autism Association. Presenters will discuss characteristics of children on the autism spectrum, recommendations for interacting with these children, NCMEC search protocols & investigative measures, and the free resources and communication tools available for law enforcement. The goal is to help build understanding and support for children on the autism spectrum to ensure safe encounters and swift recoveries.

John Bischoff (Moderator)

Vice President, Missing Children Division

NCMEC

Dr. John E. Bischoff III is the vice president of the Missing Children Division at NCMEC.  Within this role, he is responsible for the oversight of all missing children’s cases, both in the U.S. and those children taken abroad. He is responsible for all case management and hotline operations (1-800-THE-LOST®), with locations across five regionally based offices.   

Prior to NCMEC, Dr. Bischoff was a Mass Care (ESF#6) program specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he was responsible for coordinating with federal, state and local governments and private sector partners to develop effective family evacuation and reentry plans, strategies and policies. He also coordinated post-disaster child reunification plans, as well as oversaw the development of the National Emergency Mass Evacuation Tracking System. 

Prior to FEMA, Dr. Bischoff was the technical director of Public Safety and Criminal Investigations for AOL located in Dulles, Virginia.  During his 13 years at AOL, Dr. Bischoff was directly involved with hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement investigations involving child sexual exploitation and financial fraud. He was considered an expert by federal, state and local courts regarding AOL networks, email platforms and data transfer technologies. 

Dr. Bischoff holds a Doctorate in Engineering, with a focus on Engineering Management, from the George Washington University. He has received a Master of Business Administration, a Graduate Certificate in Management of Information Systems and a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia. 

Lori McIlwain

Co-Founder

National Autism Association

Lori McIlwain is the parent of an adult with autism and is the co-founder of the National Autism Association. After her son went missing from a school playground in 2007, Lori became a national advocate for wandering prevention and response. Over the last decade, she has helped create federal resources and initiatives to educate caregivers, first responders, teachers and search and rescue agencies throughout the U.S. In 2012, Lori assisted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in creating federal search and rescue guidelines for missing children with special needs.

Henry Schmidt

NCMEC Team Adam Search and Rescue Expert

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Henry Schmidt retired from the Sublette County, Wyoming Sheriff’s Office after a 31 year career in law enforcement.  Henry began his career in Lyman, WY and served as Chief of Police 1978 – 1989 before retiring as an Undersheriff from the Sublette County SO.  Henry has worked and instructed in search & rescue since 1967 and has a working knowledge of all aspects of SAR response.  He was the past President of the Wyoming State SAR Association, and has expertise in documentation and mapping of searches in missing person cases.  Henry is NASAR certified as an Evaluator and he currently is assigned as a permanent member of the Utah State Attorney General’s Child Abduction Response Team.  Henry is also a member of the Board of Directors for NecroSearch International, and a current member of the State SAR Coordinators Council/NASAR.

Joy Paluska (Moderator)

Program Manager, Missing Children Division

NCMEC

Joy Paluska joined the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2019 as a Program Manager in the Missing Children Division. In this role, she supports NCMEC’s programming related to disaster preparedness & response, children on the autism spectrum, and outreach to Native American, Indigenous & tribal communities. Between 2010-2018, Joy served in operational roles within the Office of Administration of the Executive Office of the President. Prior to that she worked in disaster recovery with FEMA and the American Red Cross. Joy began her career in 1997 at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and following that worked as an attorney for Legal Aid in her home state of Illinois. Joy is a graduate of the University of Iowa and the City University of New York School of Law at Queens College. 


Susan Braze

Office Manager/Training Team

NCMEC

Susan (Suki) loves being a part of a small but impactful team and contributing to a mission that matters. She holds a B.A. in Theater from Columbia College Chicago and has performed on the stages of The Second City, Gorilla Tango, and the Chicago Women's Funny Festival. She also has over 16 years of barista experience under her belt, and can foam a cappuccino like nobody's business. Susan is a proud vegan, runner, and animal lover.

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How to Search for and Protect Children on the Autism Spectrum
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin. This 60-minute training module includes NCMEC Search and Rescue experts, and our partner Lori McIlwain, Co-founder of the National Autism Association. Presenters will discuss characteristics of children on the autism spectrum, recommendations for interacting with these children, NCMEC search protocols & investigative measures, and the free resources and communication tools available for law enforcement. The goal is to help build understanding and support for children on the autism spectrum to ensure safe encounters and swift recoveries.