Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Parents in California hold vigil for autistic teen police say was tied up, stabbed by mother


MODESTO, Calif. -- A group of parents with autistic children organized a candlelight vigil Monday night for the autistic teen Modesto police say was tied up and stabbed by his mother.

Several dozen people gathered outside the apartments where Miles Hankins lives with his mother, Anitra Hankins.

Many took time to write prayers for Miles on a message board set up in his honor. Others left behind stuffed animals and other mementos.

Miles is in a Modesto area hospital in critical but stable condition. Police said Anitra is in jail on suicide watch.

People at the vigil prayed for both Miles and Anitra.

They said they can’t understand why Anitra may have assaulted her son, but they said they knew she was struggling to care for him.

“It’s emotionally draining. It’s emotionally taxing on families, and if you are talking a single parent, I don’t know how a single parent does it,” said Gia McElroy, who also has a child with autism.

“I’m just hoping he is going to be OK. And you know, I am concerned for him. I am concerned for his mom as well. I don’t think that anybody can really say what went on behind closed doors,” said Deborah Daugherty, Miles and Anitra’s neighbor.

The group who planned the vigil, Families for Effective Autism Treatment, hope what happened will increase awareness about the need for better services and support for families with an autistic child.