Father creates 'Scan Me Home' products inspired by his nonverbal son

Javier Soto, CNN | 2/9/2024, 3:54 p.m.
Jaxon Behnke means everything to his dad, Justin. "He's taught me more about life than life itself and I learn ...
Users can create a profile, register their information, and then iron on the Scan Me Home QR code to any piece of clothing. Once someone scans the QR code, the information pops up, including a prompt to call their emergency contact. Mandatory Credit: KNXV

PHOENIX (KNXV) -- Jaxon Behnke means everything to his dad, Justin.

"He's taught me more about life than life itself and I learn something new every day, you know, being his dad," said Justin Behnke.

Twelve-year-old Jaxon is on the autism spectrum. He's also non-verbal.

"I'll tell you right now, I understand everything he's doing, and I can, and he can communicate to me and that's the craziest part," said Behnke.

However, as Jaxon has gotten older, some challenges have come up.

"He is a runner. I mean, you guys have seen him just now. Like, he gets a chance to get out that door, he'll end up on 7th Street and Indian School," added Behnke.

Justin speaks from experience. A few years ago, his worst fear surfaced.

"We were at the Great Wolf Lodge one day and you know we're thinking he's up on the slide hanging out... and realized about a minute and 30 seconds, maybe even 30 seconds later, who knows? He's not there, and sheer panic went in, you know where you're looking for him and you're like, 'OK, where did he go?'" said Behnke.

"What's that like, in that instant where you just don't know?" asked ABC15's Javier Soto.

"It's empty. It's scary and then, where? Where do we go first? So, it's frightening for sure," Behnke replied.

That frightening event fed into his invention of 'Scan Me Home.' Users can create a profile, register their information, and then iron on the Scan Me Home QR code to any piece of clothing. Once someone scans the QR code, the information pops up, including a prompt to call their emergency contact.

Diana Diaz-Harrison is the founder of Arizona Autism Charter Schools. She tells us many children on the autism spectrum have "elopement behavior," meaning they are prone to running away or wandering off.

"When you first heard about Scan Me Home, what were your thoughts?" asked Soto.

"What a great idea. You know, why hasn't someone else thought of this?" Diaz-Harrison replied.

"This is a true solution and just peace of mind because more than likely they are going to squirrel away at some point, but then you know that all their info is on that QR code and that a person in the community would more than likely scan it and reach the parent right away," Diaz-Harrison said.

"...It just gives you a chance, and it gives you a chance right now, right? Not five hours from now, not 10 hours from now, not 45 minutes. If you get my kid, we know he's not where he's supposed to be. We see a QR code. Like again, we're gonna probably check out what that means," said Behnke.

He says the biggest thing he's hoping for right now is just to raise awareness about his products so people know what to do if they ever come across someone with the Scan Me Home QR code tag.