“What kind of shoes was he wearing?”
I stared at her incredulous. My heart was beating frantically in my throat.
It’s early afternoon in the fall of 2009* where only moments ago I had been jarred awake by our dog who was frantically barking. The front door of my home is ajar with no munchkin in sight. I didn’t realize I had fallen asleep. I didn’t know how long I had been sleeping before he left. I immediately ran outside looking frantically up and down the street when I noticed a little girl who asked me if I was looking for my son.
The woman continued looking at me skeptically.
“Dark blue Sketchers sneakers” I responded hopeful.
“Go bring him out” she says to the girl not that much older than the munchkin was at that time.
While the girl was retrieving the munchkin I was informed by this woman that her daughter and friends were selling Girl Scout cookies door to door. When they got to my house the munchkin opened the door. The girls noticed the munchkin was not responding verbally to their inquiries about purchasing cookies so they turned and walked away. They went straight home only to realize the munchkin had followed them all the way there. They lived exactly one street over.
I had failed again.
This was one of a number of failures on my part as a mother.
I, a single mother working nights (at that time), struggled some evenings to stay awake after the munchkins school bus dropped him off in the afternoons. I couldn’t afford direct after school care and my mother who watched him at night while I was at work wouldn’t be home until hours later closer to the start of my shift.
Somehow I was lucky.
Every single time I’ve been lucky in that I had the peaceful resolution of being able to go back home with my son and that he was never physically harmed by the myriad of precarious situations I have found him in.
Not everyone has this kind of luck.
Earlier this week CNN posted a story about a missing autistic boy named Maddox from North Carolina. According to the article Maddox, who was out walking with his father and a family friend decided to run up ahead. The father, allowing his son a little freedom, never thought that would be the last time he would ever see Maddox.
I don’t personally know anyone from the CNN article. As far as I know they haven’t confirmed the body of the child found. I haven’t read any information about possible suspects in this child’s disappearance. There’s a lot I don’t know.
This story really struck a chord with me. I posted about this on Instagram but then took it down as I didn’t feel my original post gave this story its due diligence.
What I do feel at this point is empathy towards Maddox and everyone involved in his care. Child rearing, which in general has never been an exact science, is even more challenging when the child is non verbal. I’m truly amazed and even (dare I say) impressed at the progress made in how the community as a whole now deals with persons with autism. I see glimmers of hope in this tragic story and don’t feel nearly as alone as I had in 2009* as a single parent.
*I don’t remember the exact year that this happened. Integrity is important to me as a blogger and this story is told as best as I can remember. At the time I was so embarrassed 😞 all I wanted to do was forget this happened. I’m not a great parent but I sincerely hope the things I share about the munchkin and I on this blog helps someone.
If you enjoyed his post please also check out Robyn’s blog over at
For other helpful resources Also check out http://www.AutismLifelineLinks.org