Boy with Autism Wanders Off, Frantic Mom Searches, Calls 911, is Cited for “Suspicion of Neglect”

What is it that the authorities do not understand about what it means to be human? Humans cannot be perfect. Humans cannot see all. And yet, in cases like this — a 4 year old with autism wandering away from the home without his mom’s knowledge — we seem so ready, even EAGER to blame the parent. The story, as reported by KETV ibihyyfshe
7 in Omaha,
is simply this: The child wandered off. When his mom realized he was missing, she went out to search for him. Meantime:

911 dispatchers received a call around 8:15 p.m. Thursday about a child standing on the corner of Northwest Radial Highway and Hamilton Street. The child had been there about 10 minutes with no adults nearby, according to a police report.

The child was unable to tell police where he lived or the names of his parents.

At 8:33 p.m., 911 received another call from a woman reporting her 4-year-old autistic son was missing.

According to the police report, officers went to the woman’s home.

Now she has been cited for suspicion of neglect.

As for the child, that he ended up at a street corner should come as no surprise. Apparently “wanderings” by kids with autism are fairly common (see this piece), and often the children are drawn precisely to the most dangerous places: bodies of water and busy streets.

I can’t even imagine how many challenges the families of kids with autism face. Facing a suspicious and unforgiving legal system should not be one of them.


A family with a child with autism should not have to endure an unforgiving legal system.

A family with a child with autism should not have to endure an unforgiving legal system.


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79 Responses to Boy with Autism Wanders Off, Frantic Mom Searches, Calls 911, is Cited for “Suspicion of Neglect”

  1. BL April 6, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    “What is it that the authorities do not understand about what it means to be human? Humans cannot be perfect.”

    But ‘the authorities’ have immunity, and the rest of us don’t. So why should they care?

  2. Clara April 6, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    The same thing happened to us with our 5 year old daughter a while back. She has Asperger’s and wandered out one summer morning to take a walk alone. We found her soon afterwards, but we initially called 911 when we found her missing from her room and the back door open. She couldn’t have been gone more than 15 minutes by the timeline we pieced together, but CPS opened up a neglect investigation which was absolutely traumatizing to our family. We were cleared after 60 or so harrowing days. We still haven’t gotten over it as a family.

  3. Donald April 6, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    What is it that the authorities do not understand about what it means to be human?…..

    What makes you think that humans are running the country? I’m exaggerating (not by much) by implying that humans are not in charge. The byproduct of bureaucracy is to remove the human aspect of authority. Bureaucracy is a mechanized system of procedures and that rules can’t be bypassed. However by doing so, authority is being taken away from humans. After all, humans are the ‘weak point’ in the system because they are capable of bending the rules. Therefore, remove their authority.

  4. vz April 6, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    And if course, this doesn’t make ASD kids or ANY kids any safer, it just makes parents less likely to call the police for help when they need it.

  5. MichaelF April 6, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

    Because if it just saves one life its worth the hundreds or thousands who are inconvenienced and burdened with unnecessary regulation.

    Cause that one would be a tragedy. Don’t really care about the rest…

  6. MichaelF April 6, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

    Yes….that last post was surrounded by sarcasm tags, which were apparently removed….I was being sarcastic….oh yes…

  7. SOA April 6, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    A child with autism was hit by a train in our town not that long ago. About 2 weeks ago. They investigated that family too. He loved trains. He eloped out of the house down to the train tracks and was hit. It happens more than we would like to think.

    As a parent of a child with autism I do everything I can to make him aware of safety rules and teach him to be independent but the reality is if he sees something shiny or he gets upsets, those rules often go out the window. So I am stuck trying to figure out the line between teaching him independence and babying him and I never know where it is honestly.

    I am going to start letting him walk to school the block away soon. We are taking it very slowly.

    I am not surprised they are investigating them. Us parents of autistic kids get the fingers pointed and judgement thrown our way on the regular. Nothing new in the neighborhood.

  8. SOA April 6, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    and the true problem is they need to turn those fingers right around and point at themselves. There is a severe lack of disability services for parents of autistic children and teens and even adults. We don’t get respite care. We don’t get money to pay for special camps or therapy or private schools or safety equipment or any other extreme costs that come up. I can’t work because of having to be on call 24/7 for my son if he has an episode at school. Do I see a penny for that? Nope.

    These families are struggling. Financially, emotionally, physically. We get beaten up by our kids. We get worn down to emotional bundles of nerves. We get depressed. We go without sleep. Our whole lives are autism world. And we know all while this is going on, that if something should happen-we will be the ones to get the blame too.

  9. nicole Gainey April 6, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    These kinds of citations & visits from dcf & arrest have to stop it is horrific for family’s to go through & causes alot of damage in our children, I just went through it, but I let my son go play & was arrested for felony child neglect thank god the charge was dropped but I too had dcf come in my home investigate me for 60th days & had to pay almost $4000 to bond out please read my story & share & help if possible ,

  10. SKL April 7, 2015 at 1:16 am #

    Today there was a news story about a 2yo boy found drowned in a pond in his yard. He had been outside with his older siblings and wandered unnoticed toward the pond. The cops made a point to say multiple times that they did not consider it to be anyone’s fault. I was glad to see that, knowing how easily it could have gone the other way. I mean, the family is horrified enough without being charged with a crime.

  11. Becca April 7, 2015 at 2:02 am #

    Every time I see something scary happen in the world, I try to find a way to reassure myself that it won’t happen to me. It’s a selfish, but instinctive habit, and I’m trying to break it and let the compassion reach through first.

    The easiest way for us as parents to reassure ourselves that bad things won’t happen to our children is to try to make out that the parents are somehow substandard. “Oh, well I’d never let my child do xxx anyway” makes us feel safer every time someone gets eaten by a crocodile or paralysed in a rugby game or killed in a bus crash in Ecuador. Bringing the authorities into it just validates those ridiculous assumptions.

    Yes, the authorities are human, and all rules are devised by humans. Unfortunately, they’re not always in the position to make the best decisions. Writing them off as robots is tricky, as it almost implies that there’s nothing that can be done about it. There’s always dialogue to be had.

  12. Crystal April 7, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    So now, when a child with special needs wanders off, we’ll have parents who will think they shouldn’t call for help because of this exact situation. Way to screw over our most vulnerable families.

  13. Nicole April 7, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    It’s pretty much a guarantee that if a child is found near home with no harm done because a parent has noticed in a timely manner that the kid has wandered off- that family is not neglectful. Stuff happens. Kids do stupid things, even ones without special needs. Good parents notice quickly and take steps to correct the situation. Neglectful parents notice their child is missing only when the police show up at their door with the child the next morning. If a frantic parent calls 911 because their kid has been gone for 15 minutes, you probably don’t need to investigate. If you had to rouse a parent from where they had passed out in a pool of their own vomit to let them know their kid had been walking in traffic three miles from home, investigate away. Figuring out which situation you are dealing with shouldn’t be as hard as authorities make it sound.

  14. Dhewco April 7, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    One of the reasons for the ‘one punishment for all’ mentality in bureaucracies is that their so afraid of being accused of favoritism. “Why did Joel get sent to jail when Jimmy didn’t? Jimmy’s kid walked away too!” It doesn’t matter to Joel’s family that he is an alcoholic when Jimmy simply turned his back away. If there’s hair-breadth’s difference between them in age or skin color, suddenly it’s racism or agism, or whatever-ism.

    At least, that’s how some of the rule-makers for these bureaucracies think.


  15. Dhewco April 7, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    their-they’re…I hate when I do such an obvious typo.

  16. Lindsay April 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    And here I was, told by government officials that my autistic son doesn’t qualify for services specifically because he’s never disappeared for more than an hour. Never mind the fact that it’s because we keep an eye on him every second of his waking hours and he’s escaped multiple times in the middle of the night, so we now sleep with a four year old between us. Yeah. There is no help for us. But heaven forbid I actually call the police when he disappears. Then I’m negligent.

  17. bsolar April 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    @Dhewco, the issue is with the idea that there has to be a punishment at all. Punishment should be meant exclusively as deterrent and as a way to educate, so what would punishment accomplish in this case? It’s surely not effective as deterrent since the parents had likely no intention of letting the child wander around alone, nor it serves as a mean to educate since the parents would already think hard about what they could do to prevent this in the future.

    In general I find this as an underlying issue with a culture which focuses too much on punishment, sometimes without a rational justification.

  18. SOA April 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Nicole nailed it and so did Dhewco. Zero tolerance policies basically were developed from minorities whining and playing the race card or the poverty card in order to try to get out of being in trouble saying they are being unfairly treated. Maybe sometimes they were. Many times they were not. So they instilled these policies to stay out of trouble of being sued for discrimination but in the meantime it screwed a lot of people who were completely innocent.

    My friend’s sister in law (not married but her brother’s gf) passed out on the couch high and her 2 year old packed a bag, got in his powerwheels and took off down the highway. That is a case of neglect. Because it took a long time for the police and passersby to figure out where the child belonged. Because the mother still was passed out high on drugs on the couch for a long long time.

    When they came to get her she of course failed the drug test immediately. THAT is a case of a found and lost child that needs to be removed from the home. He was and now my friend has been raising him. She is still raising him because they are still incapable of passing a drug test to this day.

    That is neglect. That should be investigated and punished. An autistic child wandering out a door and discovered shortly afterwards by a sober parent is not neglect. Instead of investigating this woman, they should have been asking her what they can do to help her and her son. Offering respite care. Offering to help install security safety measures like door alarms or gates or trackers for her son. Offering therapy for her son. THAT is how you take care of special needs children. Not taking them away from their parents and stressing out the family.

  19. anonymous mom April 7, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    I don’t necessarily think that parents with special needs children should be treated differently than other parents. The thing is that *any* parent can have a child wander off, especially at that age. I’ve been fortunate that none of my kids have been escape artists, but most families I know with 3+ kids have at least one who was an escape artist as a toddler and preschooler. And most of the time they managed to stop the child from getting out, but not every single time.

    I don’t think it matters, in this case, whether the child has autism or not. Autistic children may be more prone to wander off than other children, but it’s not an atypical behavior for toddlers and preschoolers in general. The parents of a neurotypical 4-year-old who got out of the house and was wandering around should not be punished, either.

    Making parents afraid to call the police if their child has run off because they might get charged with neglect is a terrible, terrible idea and it certainly does nothing to increase the safety of children.

  20. anonymous mom April 7, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    SOA, your racist, classist rant is patent nonsense. Zero tolerance policies–surprise, surprise–disproportionately affect minorities and the poor.

  21. Warren April 7, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    anon mom has it right.

    Not much older than this kid, I wandered off on my mom at the CNE, and in the huge crowd followed the wrong redhead lady. Found myself lost. Yelled at a cop on horseback, got a ride to lost and found, where mom was looking for me.

    My daughter, a sleepwalker, found her headed out the front door around 3 am, middle of winter. She was 8, in nothing more than PJs. Dog woke me up.

    I would not raise kids in a prison, with multiple locks, alarms, gps or whatever just incase they take off. Hell, the only time we ever even lock our doors is if we are going to be gone overnight.

  22. Warren April 7, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    anon mom is right about SOA, as well.

  23. hineata April 7, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    I don’t really get why people have to call police in the first place. When I pulled a wee autistic boy out of the road (he was determined to use the centre line as a footpath) it didn’t occur to me to call the police. He was the same age as this kid, actually. We just took a walk up a main street, where he seemed to think he’d come from, and Mum eventually turned up, absolutely frantic but very happy to be reunited with him. Of course she’d searched the house and immediate vicinity before looking for him elsewhere. (She’d been having a shower, and he had escaped in spite of double locks on doors….she was going home to review security measures for what she described as the umpteenth time!)

    I suppose if she had taken hours I would have eventually called the police, but I expect by then they would have been out looking for him anyway.

    I’ve never heard of charges being laid here for neglect for wandering kids, probably so people don’t delay calling police for their missing kids.

  24. hineata April 7, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    @anonymous mom – I believe SOA is a Southerner, and racist attitudes do take generations to get rid of, or so I gather from the research I’ve had to plough through over the last few years . Saw ‘Selma’ the other day, and that was hard to watch. And within the lifetimes of many of us, my husband included (I just miss it).

    Hell, we have our share of racist attitudes down here, and we haven’t had much in the way of actual racist laws. Must be much harder for groups like Southerners and Afrikaners, for whom racism was a way of life for generations, to get over those attitudes and understand all people really are equal. And that minorities aren’t ‘whining’ about unfair treatment.

  25. Michelle April 7, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    Hineata, if you are able to quickly locate a child’s parent, that’s great, but calling the police is helpful because the parents may have already called for help and you can quickly get word that the child has been found. Or, at least, that’s how it would work if the police acted with sanity and compassion.

    Also, as a Southerner, I was offended and confused by SOA’s rant. How exactly did the poor and minorities institute these policies? If someone was going to purposely slant the laws to give themselves a get out of jail free, wouldn’t it be the rich and powerful?

  26. lollipoplover April 7, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    This wasn’t a child with autism, but a 4 year-old at 3am in the pouring rain and she got on a bus…because she wanted a slushie.

    No neglect charges, just praise for under appreciated bus drivers who looked out for this little girl and got her home:

  27. Angela April 7, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    As a preschooler I once woke in the morning before anyone else had woken, woke my 15-months younger sister and we went to the park. In the snow. With our pajamas on.

    I have no clue how long we played before my parents woke and found us missing. In fact, I was so young I have no memory of the event myself; I learned of it through stories told around the dinner table.

    When my first two were little they disappeared on me for a while. We lived in the country, miles from the next house and a good trek to the dirt road we lived on, so it was no big deal leaving them to play outside while I was inside as long as I checked on them. Well, once I checked and they were gone. I went outside and started calling for them when my dog Blue and my cat Pepper both ran to me, turned away and started walking in the same direction (As far from each other as they could get. They both loved the kids; hated each other). I followed. There were the kids, following a ditch separating two fields. I was lucky with my third – she had older siblings to follow her around.

    This is something kids do. Disabled or not, young kids sometimes get excited about something, forget all they have been taught and wander off. Neglect has nothing to do with it.

  28. SOA April 7, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    I am racist and classist? LOL how do you even know what race or class I am? You are only guessing and assuming.

    4 year olds of all ages may wander off- but autistic kids of much older ages still wander off and never outgrow it like typical kids do. The one I talked about that got hit by the train was almost 10 years old. That is the difference.

  29. SOA April 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    this has a part about race and zero tolerance and it backs up exactly what I said that they did have something to do with race about why they were instilled in the first place.

  30. Anna April 7, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    Anonymous Mom: I think the autism is relevant here because it makes supervision extra hard for the parent. The child lacks the judgment that normally goes with his age, but he may well be every bit as strong and ingenious as other kids his age, and thus perfectly able to make a getaway. A friend had a similar scare with her 18-year-old son with Down Syndrome, who once got in the car on a hot day because he misunderstood and thought the family was going somewhere shortly: he was big and competent enough to open the car, but not necessarily intellectually able to realize that the car was overheating and he should get out. (But of course you’re right that such things can happen to any parent without being negligence either.)

  31. George April 7, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    You may be assuming that this is just poor judgment on someone’s part at CPS. But it is probably a necessary consequence of policies that requiring tracking all suspicions. All 911 calls involving a child get referred to CPS, and CPS must investigate and document any suspicions. Hence CPS will keep the parents on a list of suspected neglecters.

  32. lollipoplover April 7, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

    “I can’t work because of having to be on call 24/7 for my son if he has an episode at school. Do I see a penny for that? Nope.”

    This is being a Martyr Mom. Your child is only in school for 7-8 hours, 5 days a week, 9 months a year.. Where do you get 24/7 from? I know many, many parents of autistic children who are wonderful, working parents. They’re there for the unique needs of the child, but don’t need to be placed in the “martyr” category as they are just everyday folks doing the best they can. My sister is one of them. She is VP of her company and a wonderful mom to their autistic son. She doesn’t expect extra attention nor does she want it.

  33. Dhewco April 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    I don’t believe anyone should have been punished in this case. My comment was simply about why bureaucracies behave the way they do. Nothing I said claimed it was right. Also, I’m not implying anyone started it by whining. Bureaucracies over-react when even just a few individuals complain or say they’re ‘gonna start something’. Life is stressful enough without having someone try to force you to see it their way…easier just to make one rule for every situation and not have to deal with the arguments.

    BTW, some of whiniest people I’ve ever dealt with were middle-class white people. With certain types of people, it really is true that “if you give them a little, they’ll take a mile.” It’s easier to give them nothing.

    Once you let one thing go, that person will want the same treatment the next time…never seeing that they’d been given a pass the first time. “You let it go once, you should let it go again. What? You won’t? It’s because I’m Portuguese, right?”

    Goodness, I can ramble.

    BTW, I’m a southerner and racism is not limited to one place or the other. In the 20’s, the KKK was just as strong in New England as in Dixie.

  34. old school April 7, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    SOA – The only part of the summary you referenced I could find that addresses minorities in the establishment of zero tolerance laws is the following quote:
    “Part of the appeal of zero tolerance policies has been the expectation that by removing subjective influences or contextual factors from disciplinary decisions, such policies would be fairer to students traditionally overrepresented in school disciplinary consequences (Casella, 2003)”
    This is a far cry from your accusation regarding “minorities whining and playing the race card or the poverty card.” Perhaps you posted the wrong link? I am opposed to zero tolerance policies at school, and I do not know of any cases where minority families were the driving force behind their implementation. Furthermore, your statement regarding your own race and class is silly. One’s own race and class are irrelevant when considering the prejudice of a statement. The argument of “my comments are not racist because I am disparaging my own group” is just plain wrong. If you were making some other point regarding a poster’s ignorance of your personal race and class, I missed it.

  35. hineata April 7, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    @George and Michelle – I shouldn’t have brought up the South, as I have never been there. SOA’S attitudes simply gelled with writings I have reviewed as part of a degree in giftedness among multicultural children.

    @SOA – the reference to minorities whining, along with exchanges we’ve had in the past about cultural issues, are a reasonable indication that you are not a member of a minority group. So, unless the South has recently been bought and populated by China or India, it would seem highly likely that you are white.

  36. Warren April 7, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    There are martyr moms all over the place. SOA is wow up in the top three of martyr moms, for sure.

    My oldest daughter, a new teacher, has taken an interest in a lot of parenting issues, and apparently gets feeds from parenting sites. She has been asking if I experienced what she is seeing in these articles. You know the ones, ranging from the hardships of dealing with a special needs child, to the hardship of travelling with normal children and all the other hardships and ordeals parents deal with on a day to day basis.

    My answer has always been, “If being a parent is that difficult for you, then you are doing it all wrong.”. My daughter is basically substitute teaching elementary school right now, and already has many a story about martyr moms and helicopter moms.


    Unfortunately sometimes my memory traps crap info, and I remember SOA/Dolly going on about her parents and her family. She may live in town, but she is not far off from a good ole backwoods family feuding coondog huntin upbringing.

  37. Buffy April 7, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    “SOA, your racist, classist rant is patent nonsense. Zero tolerance policies–surprise, surprise–disproportionately affect minorities and the poor”

    That’s our Dolly!

  38. pentamom April 7, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    hineata, one thing about life in the U.S. that a lot of people miss, is that racism is no more prevalent in the South, than in the North. It just wears different clothing. And I say that as a lifelong northerner.

  39. SOA April 7, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

    Lollipop lover- so when her son has a meltdown and gets suspended from school yet again, who comes and gets him? Does she have back up child care for that? Does her work allow her to leave? Does she have family or neighbors that can come get him? Because most jobs are not going to think it is cool when I have to leave work because my son got suspended for having a meltdown again and then not be able to come in to work for the next three days of his suspension.

    Daycares around here will not accept kids with autism and issues like my son because they are not equipped to handle it. I checked into it. The after care at the school won’t take him.

    or maybe her son is like my friend’s son with autism and never gets suspended or tries to run away from school or gets lost in the school building or has these emergency issues. Which is good for them if that is the case, but it is a very unfair comparison to compare the two.

  40. SOA April 7, 2015 at 11:35 pm #

    Just today I had to make an emergency doctor appt for my son because his obsessive tendancies have gone off the wall and he is having daily tantrums and meltdowns and OCD episodes at school. So I had to rush him to the doctor office right after school got out. If I had a regular job I doubt that would have been something I could have done.

    I think assuming what race I am is just as racist as anything you think I said or insinuated. Do you know my husband’s race? Nope. Do you know my children’s race? Nope. No one seems to be able to recall what it actually is so you are just insinuating.

  41. hineata April 8, 2015 at 12:13 am #

    @Warren – good for your girl. Substitute teaching is a marvelous way to get around schools and see what’s happening in education. I love it most of the time.

    And here is where I do sympathise a little with Dolly, regarding the work thing. I substituted for years because Midge couldn’t be relied on health wise. ..she averaged a week off in dribs and dribs per month until she was 9, and it was just easier to have a flexible work life. Plenty of people have similar weird stuff going on. That said, Dolly could be doing the same thing. reason not to work at all. Unless one makes a choice to, which is perfectly fine, but nothing to be a martyr about.

  42. hineata April 8, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    @Pentamom – am sure you’re right. Mainly all I know of the US is what I learned in history, which was mainly about the Civil Rights movement (oh, and the origins of WW2). Plus TV of course, which I refuse to believe because nowhere could be as insane as MTV portrays 😊. And this blog of course, where most people seem eminently sensible 😊.

    @SOA – I come back to ‘whining minorities’. And stay there. If you would insult your own kids, well…..

  43. Warren April 8, 2015 at 1:19 am #


    What is it about enough already, that you do not understand.

    None of us gives a rat’s ass about what you have to do, put up with or do without anymore. You do nothing but whine, complain and brag. Shut up.

    Next, since the school doesn’t meet your kids needs, the parents don’t do what you want, and your neighbours won’t talk to your husband, and all the other things wrong in your area………..because it is never your fault, it is always someone else’s or the area’s fault, you need to move. Preferably to a small island with no internet, so that we would never have to put up with your whining anymore.

    I don’t blame you neighbours, not one bit. I am actually surprised they haven’t tried to have you removed from your home for a 72 hour psyche hold.

  44. Beth April 8, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    I hate to sound like White Privilege, but there are many many jobs that provide paid sick leave, and that sick leave includes caring for ill children. I have been working my entire adult life, and can’t even tell you how many times co-workers have had to leave to pick up a sick child, take a child to the doctor, etc. I know that not all jobs are this way, but to say “I can’t work because my kid” and “no job would let me leave” is not accurate.

    Dolly, you’re just lucky that your husband’s income allows you not to work.

  45. Donna April 8, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    hineata – The most common outward depictions of overt racism – lynchings, separate water fountains, back of the bus, national guard stopping black children from attending school, etc. – do come from the south. Not because overt racism never existed in the north, but because those are just the most salient depictions of it. While we still have the KKK floating around, the belief that blacks deserve second class status is very much the fringe and considered totally unacceptable by all of mainstream US today, even in the south. However, racial stereotypes that blacks are more prone to crime, more violent, less motivated, less caring for their children, etc., that lead to less conscious forms of racism – like reflexively grabbing your purse tighter when you pass a black man on the street or viewing a black child’s behavior as more sinister than the same behavior from a white child – exist everywhere in the US in equal measure and are still very insidious today as indicated by Dolly’s comment.

  46. CDG April 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Maybe I’m just nitpicking here but how the f… do you get cited for “suspicion” either it is neglect or it is not (and it IS NOT). Innocent until proven my a.., She did the right thing and called for help, how is that neglect?

  47. lollipoplover April 8, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Completely agree. Most jobs afford flexibility for parents (I am working remote today) and technology allows parents to work almost anywhere, while still raising happy, healthy families.
    It’s not so much “I can’t” but more likely “I won’t”.

  48. Donna April 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    Most jobs dont

  49. Donna April 8, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    Most jobs don’t afford flexibility. The poultry plant or McDonalds is not going to let you leave work to handle your kid regularly. However, Dolly claims to have a college degree so could almost find work that would be flexible if she chose. There is certainly no reason that she should do so if she doesn’t want, but she needs to stop demanding praise for not doing it.

  50. Donna April 8, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    That should be “find work,” not almost find work.

    This whole comment was a series of fails.

  51. SOA April 9, 2015 at 7:11 am #

    Not all jobs allow flexibility to just leave at a moment’s notice. Even professional jobs. My husband is not allowed to do that for sure. It would get him in trouble. He has to ask for time off about two months in advance and it has to be approved. He is allowed some discretion for emergencies but if he overuses it, he will get in trouble. With my son, it would go into overused territory for sure.

    His boss certainly does not like anytime he has to not be there and it would effect things like bonuses and reviews and raises.

    Not all companies tolerate that kind of thing. Just because your job might, does not mean it is universal. Most of my mom friends who work, have family nearby that can pick up kids in emergencies. I don’t have that.

    Subbing is a good suggestion though. I did that before I had kids. It is a very flexible job. It would still require me to leave my post though at a moment’s notice if the school calls me. If they say I have to come get him, I have no choice but to do so or they call CPS on me.

  52. SOA April 9, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    and for the record I had a job before kids and they flipped their shit because I had to miss work one day when I woke up with pink eye. The doctor wrote me a note for 2 days off and they basically made it clear I better be there by the next day or get action against me. They did not even want me missing one day for it. But I had to go to the doctor and get it treated. They also would put out memos that they were short staffed that week because someone was on leave, so no one can call in for any reason. They were bitchy as hell about leaving work and often times I had to stay late and just be okay with that. So I think it is kinda bull to try to say “Oh work would be flexible”. Because that has not been my experience at all.

    This comment section just proves what I have been saying all along though. Families with autism kids don’t get sympathy or support or help or understanding. They get judgment. So yeah thanks for proving my point I guess.

    The only ones who have offered to watch my son are other mothers of autism kids I am friends with. But anyone else? Nope won’t offer.

  53. Buffy April 9, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    We’re judging your martyr complex, Dolly. Nothing else.

  54. CrazyCatLady April 9, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    Sure there are jobs give paid sick leave and allow parents to leave for an emergency. My friend had one of those, at a college daycare where she was also taking classes. Things were fine when her son was in preschool there, with her. But when he entered kinder, the proverbial shit hit the fan.

    The boy freaked out when the kids sang. If he stayed, he rolled on the floor with his hands over his ears. He couldn’t handle the larger groups. He had meltdowns when asked to write. And when I say meltdowns, picture a 6 year old (mom delayed him for a year because he didn’t seem ready for school) screaming, kicking, hitting and totally not in control of himself. Singing and writing are things that happen daily in kinder. So my friend got called to pick him up – daily.

    Evaluations were done, high functioning autism was the diagnosis. Dad did not live with mom, but he was a tow truck driver and couldn’t leave at a moments notice either. The school said they would call CSP if one of them did not get there within a certain amount of time. My friend lost her job, had to quit her classes and lost her grants to pay for her classes. Because the dad had his own issues, he did not pay support on a regular basis. My friend gets all forms of assistance available to her and her son. She had to take him out of school and homeschool. He is now a teen, and is doing better, and she is finally able to take some classes again. She hopes that within a year or so that she can get a job again.

    And yes, people will not babysit. I tried. I did. But I also feared that he would either run away into the apple orchard across the street or that he would hurt my kids. I can handle a two year old having a tantrum. A 6 to 9 year old having a tantrum on that scale is totally different, and of course, because of his diagnosis, he can’t handle change well, so being with a sitter is much more likely to make him have a meltdown. Because I didn’t know his cues as well as mom….and he didn’t want to be with me…he wanted his familiar home and mom.

    And to add insult to injury, people don’t only give you the snot eye when your normal looking kid has a meltdown in the store, they also feel free to tell you off. My friend was renting and the landlord wanted to sell the house. So he had a realtor come look at it. The realtor wondered about all the books, so my friend told her that they homeschool, because of his disability. And the realtor chewed out my friend! My friend didn’t want to piss off her landlord because she hadn’t found another place, so she had to endure 45 minutes of the realtor ranting about how homeschool was so bad for autistic kids. (For the record, the mother had been given the option of withdrawing her son from school or having him kicked out. Because the school couldn’t implement the plan to keep things calm and still educate him.)

    Having a kid with autism IS hard. And we as a society need to cut parents some slack. They didn’t ask for this.

  55. Warren April 9, 2015 at 11:46 am #


    No one here ever said autism was easy, no one here said anything against autism, or how parents deal with it.

    Everyone here is just getting sick and tired of Dolly/SOA bragging, whining, complaining and seeking attention for every little thing she does, or puts up with. We are tired of here Martyr Mom crap.
    Dolly is the type of special needs mom, that creates a lot of frustration within the non special needs parents, because she is always complaining, and her sense of entitlement drives parents and schools off the deep end.

    If her child is so dependant on her being available each and every day to go to the school……………..he doesn’t belong in the school. For the one reason her child is obviously occupying too much of the teachers time, which is meant for all students, not just Dolly’s snowflake.

    So many parents like SOA preach that every child has the right to a public education, as a way to lobby for their special needs child. Sometimes the line needs to be drawn. Because every child has a right, also includes those without special needs, but lose valuable educational time while the teacher is dealing with that one student.

    To quote Star Trek, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.`

  56. SOA April 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Thank you CrazyCatlady. Your friend’s son sounds very similar to my son. Autism is such a spectrum that you cannot ever say “Oh my friend’s son has autism and she can work and its not a problem blah blah” because her son may do fine at school. But then other kids with autism don’t do well at school and the parents are getting called down there every day to come get them.

    In kindergarten we got a phone call every day to come get him. EVERY DAY.

    Warren-so if the schools won’t educate my son and you expect me to pull him out-does that mean you are okay with the government then giving us food stamps or some kind of paycheck for me to homeschool him and to supplement me not being able to work? Since he won’t be in school? Because that is the only fair option.

    I actually have brought up having him put into different classrooms for special needs kids and they won’t do it. They say legally they can only put him in the least restrictive environment and so far that still means typical classroom. But if there is an issue, they will be making me come get him.

    Matter of fact the Vice Principal called my husband yesterday and was trying to get him to come get him because he was having a rough day and she was keeping him in her office all day long.

    If we don’t do our best to educate these kids with autism and get them some skills and help them to learn how to be in our world, then the future is going to be bleak because all these kids will now be adults with no job skills, no ability to hold down a job, no ability to take care of themselves and that is going to put a huge strain on the disability and food stamps and government assistance.

    So you know, we either deal with it now or we deal with it later. Fact.

    And even if I found a job that let me leave when an emergency came up, what the hell do I do with him during school breaks? No summer camps accept him. No day cares accept him. I actually did look into it. Only ones that worked were ones for just special needs kids and it costs way more money than I would even make to pay for them. They are super expensive due to having to have so much staff on hand and training and safety measures etc.

    So we make do. But I am not going to act like it is easy because its not. This country does not handle this whole autism thing very well and its got to change.

  57. bsolar April 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    @SOA, this makes no sense to me: I can understand a parent being called on *extraordinary* circumstances, but you make it sound like you get called routinely. If you get called routinely it means that the school is routinely unable to handle your child in the normal classroom. Isn’t this proof enough that he needs the special needs classroom?

    How often do you get called by the school to handle these issues, if I may ask?

  58. Andrea April 9, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    SOA – what does your race or class have to do with you being racist and classist? Why do you keep talking about your race or class like it matters to the nonsense you posted in your first comment above? I saw no one make any mention or insinuation of your race or class, they just pointed out that you are racist and classist, which you are. Your race has nothing to do with that. Unless you think that only certain races can be racist, which, ironically, is also racist.

  59. SOA April 9, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    In Kindergarten we were called every day routinely. They even had me picking him up after lunch every day as part of his schedule. Because they really did not want to deal with him. I went along with it for awhile but I finally put my foot down and told them he is staying here all day to be educated so you figure out how to make that work. Only then after playing hardball did they start doing things to help him. It took till 1st grade to finally get a plan in place and for them to train his teacher how to handle him and come up with a system that works for him. And it works pretty well most of the time. He only got suspended once in first grade but it was for 5 days.

    He has not been suspended in 2nd grade yet but if he keeps acting the way he has acted the last two weeks, I see another suspension coming. He has rough spells and there is no way to predict when one might come and all we can do is roll with it. He is on steroids for his asthma this time of year and that usually makes him more aggressive.

    The way our school system works they won’t put a kid into a more restrictive environment until it is the absolute last straw and apparently my son has yet to meet that.

    He also has ran away from the school a few times outside and got lost within the building a few times to where I was called and told “we lost him”. Yeah think about getting that call when you are stuck at work. Not something good to deal with. At least if I get that call at home I can be there in a few minutes and make sure they find him.

  60. Donna April 9, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    “Warren-so if the schools won’t educate my son and you expect me to pull him out-does that mean you are okay with the government then giving us food stamps or some kind of paycheck for me to homeschool him and to supplement me not being able to work? Since he won’t be in school? Because that is the only fair option.”

    You just said that you don’t work now! That is what stared this whole conversation. Why the hell should anyone pay you to homeschool when you are not working while your child attends school?

    I don’t think anyone ever said that autism was easy. It is just the attitude exemplified above – that this world owes you something for raising your own child – that is annoying. You had a child with autism and that makes life hard and limits your choices. You are not special or unique. You are simply a member of a club along with hundreds of millions of other people who have more difficult lives You put on your big girl panties and deal with the hand that you are dealt without expecting applause and thanks for getting through each day. In fact, you’d probably be a helluva lot more likely to get them if you’d stop demanding them.

    The fact is that you COULD work if you had to. If the choice was between you working or your children living on the street, you would likely find a way to work. It may be extremely difficult, but it is not impossible. And the fact is that many do with children equally or worse off than your own because they have no other choice. But rather than thank your lucky stars that your husband makes enough money so that you can stay home and still have a nice life, you want to whine and complain as if nobody in the world could be more put upon than you and demand sympathy, accolades and special treatment.

    Further, I remember numerous comments from you back when you were Dolly where you said that you WANTED to stay home with your children. That was your plan before you even had children, let alone a child with autism. If I remember correctly, you’ve NEVER been a working parent, so this was not a choice you made because your child was diagnosed with autism. To suddenly now act as though you really want to work but can’t is ridiculous. Of course, nobody is going to pay you to do what you always wanted to do just because you had an autistic child.

  61. Cynthia812 April 9, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    I think everyone is slightly misinterpreting Dolly’s (admittedly ill-worded) initial comment. What I think she was referring too (correct me if I’m wrong) was that many zero-tolerance policies had their start from well-intentioned people who were trying to avoid situations where, say, the governor’s son was given a slap on the wrist for marijuana possession, while a kid from the ghetto was sent up the river on the same charge. I think conflating the issue with people who cry race any time something happens that they don’t like was wrong, though.

  62. Warren April 9, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    Thank you. You just saved me a whole lot of typing.

    No, nobody is misunderstanding Dolly. We all have a really clear picture of her, and her agenda.

  63. Warren April 9, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    We need to face facts.

    Dolly/SOA won’t be satisfied until she has breakfast at the White House, a press conference on the lawn, and the First Lady handing her Mother of the Century. Followed by a two hour speech on how Dolly has been so wonderful, giving and selfless.

    Hopefully the First Lady can do that without choking or breaking out in hysterical laughter.

  64. lollipoplover April 9, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    I have 2 nephews, on with autism and the other AS. Both have vastly different needs. The AS nephew received early intervention and had excellent speech, sensory, and behavioral therapy provided by local agencies. He is a popular, outgoing 11 year-old and attends public school (he’s a great student), aftercare, and summer camp.

    My autistic nephew (now 19) had so many challenges. He had OCD and anger issues and was miserable in a traditional school setting and his behavior reflected that.
    They found a school specifically for autistic teens and he transformed. He found his *tribe*. He excelled at computers so the school developed his strengths with an education focused on computer programming.
    He bought his first car last year after working at his IT job. He talks about taking more classes but is leading a successful life (he even has a girlfriend) and so different from the outbursts and violent temper tantrums of his youth. I give my sisters a lot of credit because I know it was not an was job. Raising ANY child with special needs is hard. But there are options. If your child has such frequent outbursts and you receive daily phone calls, perhaps exploring other education options to make this obviously very unhappy child happier.

  65. SOA April 10, 2015 at 7:19 am #

    Donna: I do want a part time job a couple days a week while the kids are at school to earn some extra money to help out. I don’t know how it would go though because first time he ends up suspended for a few days the boss would probably not be pleased I left my post immediately with no notice and then did not come back for 2 days. If I had family that lived closer that could help out with that, it would probably work but I don’t have that. I can schedule them to help but for emergencies they are not available either due to not living near me and having other things in their lives they have to attend to.

    Sure wish I had one of those grannies that sit around all day and live down the block and then working would be no issue, but that is not our family.

  66. Warren April 10, 2015 at 9:17 am #


    Give it up. You have been busted for the Martyr Mom that you are.

    The more you try to defend yourself, the deeper you dig the hole.

  67. Ron Skurat April 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    I’m sure the authorities think the best way to manage an autistic child is to put him in a locked padded room, preferably in a straightjacket “just in case.”

    More seriously, the authorities don’t really care about the child or the parents; what they care about is the appearance of Doing Something so they don’t lose their cushy jobs

  68. JKP April 11, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    I’ve actually offered jobs to people like SOA/Dolly who had a million excuses why it was so hard for them to find any work. Guess what? None of them ever took the job offered. Because all their excuses were only excuses.

    One lady was telling me her sob story about her medical problems and how it made it impossible for her to find any work because she was such an unreliable employee. My office was open Mon – Fri from 9am to 9pm. I didn’t have enough work to keep a secretary busy for all those hours, but whatever she could work would help me and I thought would be a win-win for us both. I said she could come or go as her medical condition warranted. If she could only work 1 hour that day, fine. If she couldn’t come in at all, fine. I would pay her whatever hours she did work each week, and I really didn’t need someone full time. Even 5 hours in a week would help me out. And it was easy, non-stressful work literally welcoming clients in a SPA getting paid $15/hour!!! She turned down the job because it was too “stressful.”

    I had parents who used their kids as an excuse too just like SOA does, and I offered them the same arrangement. Come and go as you please, and I’ll pay you for whatever hours you work. Still no takers.

    Because – like everyone points out here – those people just have excuses and just want to be martyrs and complain.

  69. pentamom April 11, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    Dolly, please. Lots of jobs aren’t flexible. Some are.

    In your situation, if you needed and wanted to, you could look around for a job that allowed the kind of flexibility you need until you found one. “Lots of jobs don’t allow flexibility so I can’t even try to find one that does,” does not add up.

  70. pentamom April 11, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    After all, if your assessment that no parent of a special needs kid who might need to be picked up from school and stayed home with for a day or two thereafter could possibly have a job, no such parent would.

    But some do. Maybe it’s hard in your environment to find a situation that works, maybe it isn’t feasible in your situation, but the needs of your kids cannot be the *only* factor that keeps you from having a job.

    And I say this as a SAHM with all typical kids who has chosen to be a SAHM for the last 25 years (but will be transitioning into a job in the next year or two) — because I *chose* to. And if you choose to, fine.

  71. Ange April 11, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    A few comments I’d like to make:

    Over the recent Easter break when lots of families here in Australia go camping there was an incident where an 11 year old autistic boy wandered off from a camp site. There was a lot of worry because the popular camping area was near a lake, and also surrounded by dense bush. Hundreds of police, emergency and volunteer searchers were involved in the search. Amazingly the boy was found after 5 days in the bush, suffering from hypothermia, was reunited with his family and taken to hospital. I have read a lot of the media coverage and there has been no mention at all of neglect on the parent’s part – Just relief and joy at finding him alive and relatively well. So I do wonder if there is some level of cultural difference between Australia and the US in this regard.

    On the other hand, there has been equally prominent attention given to another case where a four year old girl died after years of parental neglect – this has focussed on the failure of the authorities to act appropriately.

    I have no experience or special knowledge about these areas other than being a parent of teenagers. I do know that it’s not always possible to be on top of everything. One of my daughters did a runner in a department store once, and I was beside myself. However I did find her fairly quickly, but it gave me a small taste of fear that was overwhelming and paralysing. That’s why I’m a bit reluctant to blame parents for everything that happens to their child. The reality is that every parent has lapses – most of the time there is no terrible consequence; very unfortunately sometimes there is.

    There are a lot of toxic and judgemental comments on this issue, which is unfortunate. I think we should all try to remember that every parent’s circumstance is different, which is why some are able to work and some are not. Even here in Australia I remember being called to pick up my daughters from school every time they bumped their head in the playground (primary schools seem to have a blanket policy that children with “head injuries” need to go home – though I am not sure if this is still the case). In one case I had only just begun my new job. Fortunately I had an understanding boss with 4 children of his own, who never had any problem with parents needing to attend to injured and/ or unwell children. Not all jobs are this flexible though, although in Australia the majority of jobs will have personal leave provisions for use in these type of situations.

  72. Hush April 12, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    I feel honestly just as disturbed by the comments to this article, the horrible things people are saying to one another, as I do about the OP.

    People saying awful things to their fellow human beings should be ashamed of themselves. 🙁

    SOA – as someone who was bullied severely in school and went through this ‘engage? don’t engage?’ – STOP feeding your trolls/bullies. Stop responding. Nothing you say will ever make them stop belittling you and finding fault with all of your choices. Nothing. They are not actually doing it because of your choices, nothing you say could ever make them stop, they are doing it because they sensed you felt defensive about them and are purposely baiting you just to get their sadistic jollies. Stop engaging.

  73. Warren April 12, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    Please do some reading. Go back through previous stories on this site.

    Noone is picking on SOA. We are finally calling her out, for her admitted behaviour.

  74. SOA April 13, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    True I may find a job that would let me work part time and be flexible with me leaving with no notice. It could happen. Does not mean it 100% will though. My friend just got a part time job that promised she would only have to work a couple days a week and they would work with her blah blah blah and turns out once she started not the case. They wanted her coming in almost every day and got pissy when she asked off because of snow days and she had to be home because her son was out of school.

    The point is that having a kid with autism can mess with having a normal life. So we need sympathy not judgement. The family in the article needed sympathy not judgement.

  75. Kirsten April 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    Autistic kids often wander. They also are intelligent, so they know when they can sneak out, and because they lack normal fear, they’re prone to try to slip away. Its BS to give an autistic parent criticism for this because its so common. I am luck my autistic son doesn’t run, but most do…

  76. annemarie April 14, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    I am the grandmother of a 9 year old with high functioning aspergers. we do try to let him do things on his own. we recently went camping for a week and chose a site where we could see him at the playground, but he was alone. we took a quick tour of a cemetery, and he chose to stay in the car and read. Again we could see him from a distance. The same at an antique shop. Sometimes he comes with us, but as he has gotten more into reading, he rather do that. We have spoken to him about stranger danger, and the answer from him and several of his “normal” friends is that they will Ninja kick the bad person, put him in a choke hold, Karate chop the bad person, or runaway real fast. Does anyone think this is normal 9 year old, video game bravado that they will grow out of and be able to see real danger or should we be more watchful. He is extremely gifted, knows his address and phone numbers, but if we’re in a place with a great number of people, we put a nametag on him, ie theme park, outdoor festival. He doesn’t wander off, but he will runaway if he gets upset. Any ideas on how to get him over this bravado, superhero complex?

  77. Mary Bissell April 15, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    Thank you for reporting on this. This is starting to sound like a major problem for autistic parents. There was a family in Alabama. the Cartees, who had their 7 children taken because an autistic boy was wandering off. And CPS may come down on parents who try to do something about this. There was an autistic boy in my area named Joshua Robb who was taken by CPS because he was tethered to a post in his yard. He was there because the family’s home had been foreclosed and they had to live in a tent in their yard. The family explained he was a flight risk, and were proven right when he ran away from foster care. He spent the night in the woods during a thunderstorm. After he was found, no move was made to return him, and a gag order was put on the parents.

  78. BL April 15, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    @Mary Bissell

    “a gag order was put on the parents.”

    How do gag orders survive the First Amendment?

  79. Brooke April 15, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    New hope for autistic children of all ages