Autistic WPB toddler found wandering streets

By Peter Schaller - email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A 3-year-old boy with autism is found wandering the streets alone. It wasn't until his dad recognized him on the news, hours later, he came forward.

The child protective services, however, says that's just the beginning of the story. The state is now holding onto the little boy.

"A real mother would be up with her kids that time of morning making sure they are eating," said Tawanna Thompson.

Thompson, a mother of 6, is appalled. Three-year-old Jamal was out wandering the streets downtown. She found him near this intersection of 15th and Division early Sunday morning.

Tawanna says Jamal, all by himself, came out of nowhere. Tawanna pulled over and got him out of the street. He's autistic and was not talking, so she called police. Officers were there in minutes and went door-to-door looking for anyone who knew him.

Detective Jennifer Favors said, "The officers took photos and showed them to residents to see if any recognized him, and when we found him, he was just wearing black shorts."

He was in bad shape and had nothing. "A pair of black socks for his feet and another lady came around gave him a bottle of water and her breakfast," said Thompson.

Police say he doesn't look like he was abused; he's been well fed.

For now, he's saying at a DCF shelter. Detectives say Tawanna's quick thinking and kind heart kept this scary Sunday morning from getting any worse for Jamal. "I wouldn't say I'm a hero. I was just being a caring parent," she said.

Jamal has a big brother and a little sister. Both of them are still with dad. The family is expected at an emergency DCF hearing at 8:30 Monday morning.