My Broken Heart: The True Story of The Bare-Handed Man


The story in the below post happened to me on February 22, 2011. This event has forever changed my life. Please help me share it. This is why we desperately need Autism Awareness. Thank you for reading and helping me share my story… This was also published on CNN Mon April 16, 2012.

My Broken Heart: The Story of The Bare-Handed Man

It’s been a few days since I have spoken with all of you. Something happened to me a few days ago that I have been struggling to deal with it. I hope you all truly hear what I’m about to share with you. I want everyone to read this and know what happened. Not because of what I did but because of what I learned… Please share this story and help spread awareness.

A few days ago I went to Giant Eagle to pick up some groceries. We had a winter storm on the way and I needed to pick up a few things in case we got snowed in again. I pulled into the parking lot and found a spot right in front of the entrance. My back is out again so I can’t walk very far. As I was pulling into the spot I had to wait for some people to move out the way. They were just standing in the parking spot. Their car was in the next spot over but they just stood there and shot me a few dirty looks,  like “who was I to expect them to move”. I just waited, it wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t even upset. They eventually started to get into their car and moved out of the way so I could pull in.

The snow had already started to fall and we were getting about 1″ per hour. I sat there a second collecting what I needed to take into the store. I just happened to look over at the people that were still getting into their car and I saw a large black man standing there. I didn’t see where he came from but in one minute he wasn’t there and the next minute he was.  Then I realized what he was doing. He was wiping the snow and ice off their windshield with his bare hands. The woman looked at him, like, “how dare you touch my car”.

She was clearly disgusted by just breathing the same air. Instead of asking him to stop or giving him a few dollars she tried to run him down. She gunned the car forward so fast that her friend who was trying to get into the back seat had the back passenger door slammed on him and he was left standing in the snow. The man who had been trying to clean the windshield was knocked back. This woman just kept shouting things to the man with the bare hands.


I was in shock. I had never seen anything like that before and I never want to again. A few seconds later the man gets up and walks over to me and knocks on my window. I hadn’t even begun to process what I had just seen. Now he was coming over to me and I had no idea what I was going to say.

Shamefully, I was thinking “please not now, I just want to get what I need and get home”. Where I live it’s not uncommon for people to approach you for money. So I knew what was probably about to happen. I took a deep breath and started to open the door. The bare-handed man opened it the rest of the way, being careful not to hit the car next to me.

The bare-handed man was underdressed for the weather and obviously cold. He asked me for change. I gave him everything I had, $2.37. He started talking to me but couldn’t look me in the eye. As he was telling me how cold and hungry he was, I watched as he was unable to control his hands. It was like he was playing an invisible piano. He had a very hard time talking to me and I could see he was much more uncomfortable then I was. He clearly had boundary issues but I never felt threatened in any way. He kept staring off and would occasionally look in my direction but never at me and I never saw his eyes.

He stood about 1 or 2 feet in front of me and asked me to drive him to a shelter because it’s “warm there and they have food”.  He informed me that he was “homeless and very hungry”. He then told me that he “was not lying to me”. He said, “if I lie to you then you might not help me”. He asked me to buy him some food and gloves. I thought about what to say. I knew he would have a hard time understanding. I don’t have any money. My family is struggling to survive each day. I would literally be taking away from what little my family has and I just couldn’t. I was trying to figure out how to explain to him that I couldn’t help him. I was lost for words.

Then something happened that shook me to the core and completely broke my heart. As I was trying to form the words I needed to tell him “no”, he looked me in the eyes. All of the sudden I was looking at Gavin. Gavin is the oldest of our three special needs boys (all Autistic). Gavin is 11 years old and is also diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as well. Looking at the bare-handed man was looking through some special window at my son Gavin, 20 or 30 years from now. It was a kick in the gut. I was overcome with emotion. It was like I was run over by a freight train. I can’t put words together to really describe what that moment was like.

He again asked me to buy him food because he was hungry and gloves because his hands were cold. Something about him was so familiar and yet I’d never met him before. I looked at him and told him I would buy him some food. He smiled in my direction and took my hand (without looking at me) and led me into the store. He didn’t fit in with the rest of the people in there. His clothes were old, beat up and didn’t smell very good. He had clearly been through a great deal in his life and it showed in his face. I noticed the looks people gave me as I walked with the bare handed man into the grocery store.


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  1. @CNN I couldn’t retweet this from my tl. I had to go to your site. What’s going on?

  2. I understand how this dad feels I have a special needs son + the worry doesn’t stop

  3. @CNN Absolutly as a parent of a special kid i live through your nightmare what he do after me, still no answer

    • Gracie on July 7, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    @CNN I don’t know how you were able to keep it together and write. I was watching you interact with…

  4. This touched me to my CORE. It makes me want to form some kind of posse so we can take care of our children for each other when we are gone. Your story, his story, is OUR story. Thanks, Rob. 
    Sobbing on the floor myself…

    • Cari King on April 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Wow, that is an incredible story and really hits home. I live with this fear every day too, thank you for sharing this and thank you for helping the barehanded man. xc

    • Lorena Polinesi on April 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    finished the job ! tired but happy !thanks for putting into words what I feel , words are foreign languaje for me and make me have difficulties to express my emotions . hugs

    • Jenny A Marshman-Holloway on April 2, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I just want this to get out there my 18 year old son is also schizoaffective and autistic and now I am very ill and they’ve called the state for me I’m do scared this will be my son non one cares about our kids and if they have mental illness too I’m crying

    • Christal Orvis Pewterbaugh on April 2, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I can’t keep the tears from rolling. My Zach is like your Gavin, and like this man in years to come. We have been excluded and shunned from churches and sadly even family because of my kids. These kids don’t need to be excluded, they need included and the only way for that to happen is AWARENESS!!!!!!!!!!!! People need to educate themselves about autism and be aware!

    • Kim Kennedy on April 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Wow Rob. I have no words for that. It left me with a bubble in my throat and a tear in my eye.

    • Lorena Polinesi on April 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Of course ! Thanks

    • Lost and Tired on April 2, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Lorena Polinesi go for it. I only ask that you provide proper credit and a link back to the original. 🙂 Thanks for being willing to translate….

    • Lorena Polinesi on April 2, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Hi , I like to share this post , but I need to translate to Spanish , I need your permission to do that , I think ….

    • Carol Staley Rice on April 2, 2014 at 10:35 am

    This hits home for sure… though my son is only mildly affected (aspergers), I still can’t help but worry. I try each day to seek out “good” people to surround him with so that as he grows, should anything happen to my husband & I… hopefully he will have people in his life to look out for him. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Girl in Sacremento  thanks so much for being such a nice person. The world needs more people that are willing to help.  Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Hi Rob. I am so sad and literally trying to keep tears from trickling down by face right now. I would just love to meet that man with the bare hands. You know what? I would just LOVE to be in that situation. I am not being sarcastic. When I get my first job, I want to work at a shelter and you should be my boss. I love giving to the homeless. Tomorrow I will tell my friends about this blog. They are some of the best friends a girl can have. I just know they’ll care and spread the word about Autism. Just like me. 
                                                                                                                                                  -Girl in Sacremento

    • MunazzaHassan on September 28, 2013 at 5:21 am

    may Allah bless you and your family..Remember He is the one who is the source of all provision and He will take care of your children..But the question is.. are people like myself who are not very much aware about autism ready to be the means to help people with disabilities.. Thankyou for writing this.. If I can be of any help, please let me know.. You are in my prayers

    • SadafBakhtiari on September 27, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I have 3 boys too.All are so young .Oldest one is going to be diagnosed soon.Your story brought tears into my eyes.I hope my ittle one who is 1 year old will not have autism so the older boys will have one hope.Still dont know time will tell.But God is great.Thanks for sharing your story.

  7. upliftingfam Thank you very much for reading it.  🙂

  8. This is an awesome story,  I appreciate you sharing it again.  😉

    • Sarah Bolier on August 29, 2013 at 11:01 am

    You can tell a lot by looking in someone’s eyes

    • Sarah Bolier on August 29, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I remember reading that story and I bawled. I just read it again and bawled. That is very touching and I have had similar experiences with this and it gives me goosebumps, what if that’s my son when he’s an adult?? Would someone help or turn away…

    • NicoleTozier on June 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    That was the most heartbreaking, emotional piece I have ever read from you, and I have read quite a few. I don’t know anyone with autism, and so, much like you felt with this man, I was touched in a way I cannot explain. Like, somehow, I related to what happened to you. That is a feeling that will, I hope, stay with me for some time.

    • LeaSilva on March 8, 2013 at 8:42 am

    my name is Lea Silva and My oldest boy is autistic and my middle may have ADD disorder, my youngest Godwilling wont have any disorders but only time will tell. I know exactly how you feel. I luv my babies so much and to think of someone hitting them with their car and being disgusted with them for asking for money is sickening. I hope that God is blessing you and your family and comforting you and yours. Thank you for sharing your story and I will share it. Have a blessed weekend.

    • Mollie Ferretti on March 5, 2013 at 8:24 am

    My name is Mollie Ferretti and I have 4 special needs children. Your story was so heart felt. I too cried like a baby. This is so true for all of us. God willing we are able to find safe havens for all our children and when the good lord says it our time we are at peace knowing our children will be safe. Thanks for sharing your story. You are a blessing to all

    • Momma Bear on March 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. Indeed, I have the same concerns for my 17 year old son who has Downs Syndrome and Autism. I am 54 and my husband is 59 years old. Our son, though quite lovable, requires constant supervision and I know of no one within our family and friends that is willing to take on such a sacrifice. I pray that the Lord will provide a loving home for him when we are too old to continue his care! God bless you for giving to this lost soul. I pray that all his needs will be met.

    1. @Momma Bear thank you for the kind words. I know your fear all too well.

    • Beetender on March 4, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I understand your pain.  I’m a 59 yr old, single parent to a 26 yr old child with severe autism and PDD. This adult child of mine will always be 3 yrs old mentally,  she is such a joy, but she has challenges everyday.  This time is fast approaching for us, in 20 years I’ll be 79 and my child 46, I believe I have a plan God willing.  My child’s older siblings have sworn to care for the youngest of them, but I worry.  As we grow older we see the uncertainties our children will always face, we see the dangers and try to protect them.  This man that you helped was your angel, he broke your heart and changed you and your family in a way you never thought.  He is someones child, you will never know his full journey, but his journey has made a change.  Mental health in our country needs to be addressed, if we do not reform and take care of the least of these, our humanity is doomed.

    1. @Beetender thank you. 🙂

    • robonaught000 on March 4, 2013 at 8:11 am

    thank u for posting this, that worry keeps me up night after night, what happens to my kids when I’m gone (they are both Aspies) , neither of their Dads help at all, I carry this alone and it terrifies me

    1. @robonaught000 you’re very welcome. I’m working very hard to

      1. Make sure that our kids have the brightest future possible.

    • elizabeth landry on January 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    You are forgetting about the advances in medicine that will come. There may be a cure in your lifetime. 
    What you did for that poor man will bring you great rewards. Children also often mature and improve in their ability to cope with things. You and your wife be strong and know that people like you are inspirational to us.

  9. (Sorry my other comment was at the false place I dont now why it should have been here.)

  10. Why didn’t you take you son home?

  11. thank you 🙂

    • Jen Wilson on June 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience.  I have had similar experiences, one homeless man in particular looked so much like my son- I gave him $20 and a list of homeless shelters.  I drove away crying my eyes out praying desperately that my son won't suffer that fate.  I couldn't control my tears as I read this, it felt like reading my own thoughts.  God bless you and your family.

  12. I want to thank you for this read.
    I think I am as in shock as you were at that time. I can't stop thinking about it and crying.

    My son (7) has autism, and I am simply terrified because this could very much have been him instead of Tim.
    If only I could I would get to Ohio and bring Tim home,so at least this (innocent) soul would be saved.
    I think and think of how I could abandon my job and do something more meaningful to help, to save people like Tim and to raise awareness, yet I find myself utterly powerless to do anything!

    Thank you for your blog. Thank you for spreading the word! And I pray for your kids and mine, and for a better world!

    • guest on February 27, 2012 at 7:51 am

    When you looked into that man's eyes you saw the face of Christ, which is what you see in an autistic kid's eyes. Don't fear for your children. They'll be fine.

    • Terry on February 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    You are an amazing individual. Most people would just turn their back and walk away. We all need to be aware that there are those that struggle and find a way to help one another in this world.

    • susan on February 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I'm glad when people realize that children who have autism will grow up to be adults who have autism. It doesn't go away just because they are grown. Society seems to only have compassion for the children. Adults need help too. Many had no help as autistic children and now, no help as adults. My husband and I are barely getting by. Who knows what the future will be. I know no one cares.

    1. I care. If I can help please let me know.

    • Tanya on February 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    God bless you and your family! As a Christians we are called to do beyond we can possible think we can do. What you did, be sure that God is smiling to you. He hasn't forgotten you, just pray and He'll answer your needs… May te power of God takes you were the grace of God will protect you always.

    • Catherine on February 23, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Reading your story, brought tears to my eyes. As a parent I can understand your concern. I was always under the impression that God only gave special children to special people, and your story proves that statement, God does watch over his Angels (special children) and that is why that man found you to help him. Your children will be cared for since your training and actions are inbred into them, and others with a heart will see this and help. May God bless your household and others. Cathy L.

    • Peggy on February 23, 2012 at 9:25 am

    You did a good deed that day and that man will be forever grateful to you that you helped him that day. God Bless You.

    • Robin on February 23, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Rob, you are a kind person, and remember what you did for that man will come back to you and your family. The kindness that you showed him will be shown to your family. It is so nice to talk to someone who understands my struggles. Rob you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. Much love goes out from our family to your family<3 Thank you for being the person you are!!!!!

    • Robin on February 23, 2012 at 4:29 am

    thank you Rob for sharing this with us. My husband and I have a 16 year old beautiful young man, who has the diag. of Aspergers. I sit here sobbing reading your story. He is very bright, I explain situations to him every day of his life. As soon as I found out his diag. I stopped working and started to learn from ot, pt , and speech therapists. I read everything I could get my hands on. We have worked together every day for the last 16 yrs. to prepare him for his adult years. He attends a public high school, and he attends the mens chours at school. And he enjoys this so much, he states mom my teacher is teaching me so much. He also plays the piano, and a little guitar. During the last years talent show he played his own piano piece which he wrote. He struggles with his main courses, but he knows all of his struggles will pay off some day. I stay in touch with him every day. It has been a financial burden for our family, but all worth it. Our sons pediatrician told us he would never be able to talk or walk or be able to accomplish much in life. Well Iam here to say how wrong he was. We are so proud of our son and all of his accomplishments.

    • Zoila on February 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    I know what you mean. I have an aunt that has been homeless off and on for the past 15yrs now. We try to help her but she is deaf & schizophrenic. She has made such a profound impact on my kids & I. I can't even begin to explain. I can't help myself but to help the homeless when I come across. There is one man that sits near our grocery store, the kids and I buy him meals when we can. His eyes, are so much like the boys. He has such a sweet innocence about him, and barely talks or even looks at us. But when he does, it's very intense. I can't help but think, he once was someone's son, probably much like my boys. Unfortunately, so many of the homeless have mental illness and we as society are so very hard on the people who need us the most. In many ways, it's one of the reason I fight so hard to get the boys care. My boys don't have to go through what my aunt & her children have gone through.
    My recent post First Day of Robot Club

    • Nichole on February 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing, such a terrifying thought, our children alone in the future. Good for you for being a good person. Best wishes for you & your family, always.

    • Jana on February 22, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    That bare handed man came from the First Generation to be let out into the Public who had a Disability. This is why he fell through the crack. We need to teach the Next Genration how to act better than this.

    • S Karim on February 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    There are so many people misdiagnosed who are clearly autistic and are the forgotten part of society. It is unfortunate .I see many of them homeless. They're processed in the Mental side of the court system. Sometimes they may have committed a crime of some sort because they don't understand social boundaries or rules. Maybe their families have given up hope for them. Autism is more prevalent than we thought. It has been overlooked and sometimes not a major symptom of a mental diagnosis. My boys and brother who are all autistic have given me a new set of eyes.I watch my brother struggle with social issues and housing. Some of homes or board and care for people with mental disabilities are in a sad state. It makes me know I need to take care of myself in order to be there for my boys as long as I can. I need to set a trust fund for them. Relying on the Social Security -disability-medicare system will not be enough. You are a good person. May you also continue your journey with care and compassion. The world is a better place because of you.

    • Anon on February 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I work with special needs students (I'm a teacher)- a few of them have Autism. These kids have such love for those in their life and such a positive outlook about life….a truly unique take on the world. My youngest child is the same age as the kids I work with and let me tell you how hard it is for me to go on every day knowing that one day (sooner than I care to admit) I will watch my child and my students graduate. I will watch these little people march in cap and gown and then (presumably) send my baby off to college and have her experience a fairly "normal" life….just as her brothers can. These kids I work with will never have the same chance. Even with all the awareness, services, interventions, and love the kids I work with have there will never be anyone out there who can advocate for them like their parents. What happens when parents are gone? This. So. so. so. sad. I hope that so much more changes over the next 11 years so these kids don't graduate into the same world this man has come to live in.

    • MLOWE on February 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I don't even know what to say…having known an older couple with two special needs children, it occurred to me then…what happens…after…when there is nobody to look out for them? There are so many people who think that all homeless people are just lazy drug addicts…their eyes are so closed to reality they can't see it is their brother, their sister, them…we never know what the future will bring and attention should be paid to this shameful problem we have in the U.S., 'the richest country in the world'.

    • Jenny on February 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    You had me in tears, my husband and I have recently been talking about our son's future and this just hits home. It's what I fear will happen everyday. I keep telling myself I need to stay healthy and live as long as possible because I can't trust or know that he will be okay. And I know this sounds awful but sometimes I hope that he passes before me that way he never has to go through life without out support and love. I've spoken with many other parents with special needs kids that feel the same way so there is no guilt just worry. I just can't see anyone else caring for him, loving him, and understanding him the way we do. Thank you for sharing this heart wrenching but all to real story with us.

    • lorrainewilde on February 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you. We need to be reminded that we are all people and no one is disposable.

    • kate schwartz on February 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you for spending your money on such an IMPORTANT person! It is not easy but you provided so much more than food or money. Was at a conference last week that talked about teaching other to be human. You provided humanity to not only him but all that you share your story with and all that saw you provide to a man who was not dressed for the weather.
    Thank you for reminding one and all to not always judge but to let our hearts lead us!

    • Carol on February 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    You really understand what each parent of a special needs child fears in their heart. The future is so uncertain for all of us, and even more uncertain for our special children. We can only do our best to try to help make their future as secure as we possibly can, and hope and pray for the best. Just having written these words, it tells me how much understanding of our children's needs is missing in our society – and we each need to do our best to make it better. Fighting for change and for a better life for our very special children is very necessary. Showing compassion for others who have had hard times in life should not be something we have to think about – just do it. It's harder to do this when most people are having harder times themselves, but it is the core of our humanity – we each need to make a better, safer, and more understanding place for our children.

  13. Enter text right here!

  14. This is why I work in assisting individuals and families in transitioning to post secondary situations. It includes everything from recreational activities to job and living situations, to education. Financial planning is also paramount, and I refer to Weed, who is such a GREAT resource for financial issues for anyone (and every family) who have issues with multiple types of disabling conditions. So many people, such as this screeching woman, fail to see them as people first and foremost. Good for you, sir, for tending to one who was counting on your assistance for his life. It was also a gift to the world, just through this common kindness. Thank you for taking action to make a difference. Thank you too, for writing this posting. I will follow you now!!

    1. Thank you for doing all that you do.

    • Nina on February 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Every state has a Protection and Advocacy office. The are affiliated via a national organization called — The National Disability Rights Network. They help all disabled people and they advocate for those who are treated badly. They found a group of former TX residents who were shipped off to Iowa to work in a poultry processing plant — unpaid, underfed, and in housing without heat. These people are trying to make a real difference for our kids. We need more people like them. Even if we cure autism, there are still plenty of other illnesses … these are people and we need to remember this.

    Rob, you are a great writer!!

    • MHolmes on November 26, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Wow, that is an amazing story, thank you..
    I may not be a parent of a autistic child but I am the care giver of an adult with autism..And every day is not easy..I wish there were people out there or some where people like the man, had some where to go that was safe for them, and looked after them better instead of them being left on their own..

    • lydia on November 24, 2011 at 6:05 am

    I just can't stop crying. My almost 5 year old daughter has been diagnosed with autism and I have been worried about things like things like this. Being a girl, there's more to worry about. Only God knows how it is…

    • Claus on November 11, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Printing this, placing it on my night stand and forcing myself to read it each morning would make me a better stepdad. Thanks for sharing this.
    My recent post Matthew was treated for the wound on his foot yesterday. He…

    • Debbie on October 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I just read this post and it reminds me of a man who seemed homeless, but obviously had some sort of mental illness. I saw him in the cafe at the grocery store so I bought him a soup and coffee and asked the worker to bring it to him. I have a son with bipolar and pdd, I would hope that G-d forbid it should happen someone would do this for him.

    1. God bless you for doing that. Thank you for doing that. It makes such a difference in that persons life. As you said, I hope that if my boys are ever in that situation that someone would show kindness.

    • tabitha on September 20, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    i am in the same shoes you are only i have three children but only one is autistic and also has a seizure disorder. i have cried so many days and nights i know it gets frustrateing and challengeing in many ways . kenny ray is on a 2 year old level and has been diagnosed with lennox gasraut syndrome as well. i sometimes dont know what to do or where to turn its so exp and we live not even pay check to paycheck. he is in diapers and cant feed himself well. he doesnt know danger o someone has to be with him 24/7 its heartbreaking sometimes. my prayers are with you and your family and all i ask is the same in return for mine. thank you and god bless……

    • jpdeanna on September 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Your story touched my heart in so many ways. I have a high functioning autistic 7yr old son and I understand that sick feeling of will he be okay, what happens when my husband and I are no longer around. He can speak, but communicating is still difficult for him, he has taught me that there is a big difference between talking and communicating. I am so glad that you did what you could for that man and I wonder how many more like him are out there. I also understand the financial crunch, my husband and I pay for extra therapies because what is available through the school is just not enough to help him. I don't regret it though because he is doing so much better than they ever thought he could. Thank you for this blog, it makes me feel less alone in my fears and experiences. People don't understand that new shoes for a child with autism can be traumatic.

    • Lauren on September 14, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Please know that I am praying for you and your family. You make the world such a better place with your love, your kindness, and, most importantly, your mission to spread awareness about Autism. Several of my friends have children on the spectrum. I do not yet have a family of my own. But I see the challenges my friends face, and do all I can to support them, their children, and help spread awareness. I hope that things begin looking up soon. Until then, and even when they do, know that you are not alone. There are still people in this world who deliver kindness, love, and hope. We will continue sharing these things, praying together, and spreading the word about autism.

      • Lost_and_Tired on September 14, 2011 at 12:37 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support

    • trish on September 14, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I do not have children of my own but my brothers are autistic, While Danny has proven capable of living on his own David probably will never live by himself. I promised a long time ago to take care of him when Mom no longer could. I don't want my brother to end up alone. This story reminded me why.

      • Lost_and_Tired on September 14, 2011 at 12:41 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I\’m glad my story touch you
      so 😉

    • niki on September 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    my son is 10 and has autism.
    he was diagnosed very young but did not get any services in the state of Arizona where we live. finally 1 doctor heard us. diagnosed my son. and now is getting DDD. but no services just yet. we are still waiting.
    i feel like you, wondering where our child will be as adults. i feel helpless.
    we have a crazy family who does not care.
    we have no friends. no family who cares. we feel so alone my husband and i. like us against the world with my son.
    i feel your pain. i'm there with you. i have you bookmarked on my blog now, however i do not have an all autism blog, i follow the research and am always looking,/reaching out for others going through this journey as well.
    My recent post A Charmer~

      • Lost_and_Tired on September 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Well now you have at least one friend. 😉 Please join our support group. Click on the the special needs parenting support group. This is private and we all understand. We all support each other any way we can.

      Thank you so much for introducing yourself. Please know that you are not alone and while we are there in person, we all here for you online.

      Stay strong


    • Amy on August 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    May your kindness come back to you a thousandfold. Angels come in disguise all the time. And any of our children may grow up to be like this man – you never know what will happen. "There but for the ghrace of God go I…" You can only be kind, and then be kind again, and keep the kindness in your heart and your deeds. You are the perfect example of a thoughtful, caring, human being. I hold you in my heart.
    My recent post we survived the 8-23-11 5.9 earthquake

      • Lost_and_Tired on August 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Thank you for your kind words and support.

    • Sarah on July 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    That story is heartbreaking. Reading it made me feel as though I was there. I have an 8 yr old son with as,adhd and sensory needs. I hope with all my heart the world can open it's eye's and see that just caring for others can make a big difference and there is much help and support needed in the autism community and others as well!!

    • Victoria on July 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm


    Wow, what a surreal story. So sad, yet so touching. It must be fate that brought me to your blog. I so know what you mean about worrying about our childrens future, especially with our special needs daughter. It is soo very scary. You just dont know….. you dont know what the future holds for them. You are soo right that Parents of special needs kids live with this indescribable fear each and every day. I so know I do. Thank you for sharing and please dont stop. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    • Carolyn on July 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Oh wow! That post hit home so much for me. I am a mother of a 7 year old aspie and my biggest fear in life is what is going to happen to him after I'm gone. Even now he is judged harshly by a world that doesn't understand him and he's at home safe in the cocoon! I want to raise autism awareness too. I voted for your, set up a reciprocal link to my blog (, but I want to do more. Please email me..I would love to help you in your efforts

    • cyndi stallings on June 24, 2011 at 11:52 am

    wow… you have moved me beyond anything I have felt in so long! I started to read this posting and now have re-read it twice, weeping the whole time! I too have seen this man, in many forms and places, and have also looked and assumed drugs, alcohol etc.. I have always given to my church, local food pantry, etc… thinking that is sufficient and my mind is free from guilt because I've 'helped'. But this man is someone who either didnt or couldn't ask for help from these places. He saw something special about you and knew that you were safe to ask for help! What a gift you gave him! He had just been shown the worst of humanity through that horrible woman and then you saw a Child of GOD when you looked into his eyes! The money and food card will help him physically, but you have given him emotional and spiritual food for many years with your understanding amd compassion!

    Thank you so much for opening up my eyes and allowing me to now see these 'men and women" with compassion and empathy instead of fear, ignorance and prejudice!! You will be blessed many times over for sharing this story, even though your first instinct was not to.

    (I started to read your blog because I too have fibro and many other health issues and my nephew has autism!)

    • What It Takes To Be Me on June 21, 2011 at 2:25 am

    This is an amazing and very touching post.
    Thoughts and prayers,

  15. I am moved beyond words. Thank you for sharing, thank you for being open to that experience. I, too, have seen my child's eyes in a lost adult, and it was the most jarring, unsettling thing I have ever felt. Much love to you and your family. <3

      • Lost_and_Tired on June 16, 2011 at 3:11 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

    • katscafe on May 14, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Wow – just reading through some other posts since i started reading at your blog. your post touched me. Sometimes, when we give out of the least we have, we're blessed. I haven't read enough to know whether you were blessed. Emotionally, it sounds as if you were, at least a little.
    I can't help but see my kids in some of the adults I have met, adults whose circumstances make me hurt for them and for the future of this country that doesn't seem to care about the most precious and vulnerable of its citizens. I pray that you are blessed, if nothing else, then maybe with an extra hour of sleep. 😉
    My recent post Autism and Cops- When Two Worlds Meet via Autism Speaks Official Blog

  16. Rob, Jews have a tradition of Elijah tales. The prophet Elijah appears as someone needing help, in order to test the worthiness of the person who himself needs assistance. I hope you met your Elijah, and your kindness will open the road to increased security. I also have three boys, and I can’t see the futures of my typical sons or my autistic one. I can only keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I admire you for keeping on in the mire.

  17. Thank you for sharing this story and for highlighting the fear that parents of SEN children experience on a daily basis. I often feel a tremendous pressure to live a very long life so that I can make sure my children (particularly my autistic son and daughter) are settled and cared for.

    • Andy on March 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story. I have a 6 year old with ADHD/DD and I can relate to you story about what going to happen after we are gone. I was homeless at one time and was so thank full for the kindness of people like you. I was homeless because of mental illness and kindness of a few made the world seem a little better.

    • Yamus on March 26, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I am truly thankful to you for sharing this story. I am not one to read much of anything, but I have to admit, that I couldn't stop once I started. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    1. Thank you Yamus… Thanks for reading..

    • greg on March 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    You see the world through an amazing set of eyes. Thanks for linking and allowing me to share in that story. May God bless you Randy.

    • Dan on March 4, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    My wife and I think about this a lot. Our youngest son has some challenges and right now we definitely need to be around to support and help him. We work extra hard to hopefully save enough so that he'll be taken care of when we're gone.

  18. Just wow, this really touched me. I've seen firsthand how cruel people can be, especially when faced with the unknown. The only comfort I can offer is what goes around comes around, that bitch will get what's coming to her.

    I have two autistic cousins, one will hopefully be somewhat high functioning. The other is still struggling with learning how to use the toilet and he's 6..

    Best of luck with your kiddos.

    • Celz on February 27, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    You are an amazing person.. I pray for your family often, God Bless…

    • Adi on February 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Have you ever looked at the GAPS diet. The results are often astounding. It takes a lot of effort but I well worth it.

  19. Everyone PLEASE accept my sincerest THANK YOU for EVERYTHING.. I had no idea this story would take off like it has. I just wanted people to know what happened and how it impacted me. I think we need to change many of our assumptions about people like the bare handed man….. This man was someone's child….

  20. Your sense of compassion reminds me so much me of my own. Thank you for sharing a heartbreaking story, followed by a MUCH needed call for action. I must confess-I have literally nothing to donate right now. However, until I can start making monetary donations,I will donate something else you would appreciate-my time+ dedication. I will forward this, tweet this, FB this, and any other way I can share it. I will also further educate myself on autism as well. Ever since I started reading your blog while downloading your unbeatable Epic ROMs,I have come to think about you and your family frequently. I have already recommended "Lost & Tired" to several people I know, and I will continue to spread the word around. You have such a wonderful heart, and I wish I could take away some of your pain, even if it meant that Id have to endure it myself. I might not personally know you, but I'd gladly help a stranger who is struggling-just as you did.
    You are a better person than most Rob…a much better person..

    • Cecilio on February 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I started only glancing at this story but suddenly couldn't stop reading this. Your story truly touched me because every time i see someone asking for money I always assume the worse… beer/drugs but i never stop to think about the exceptions out there. I know i can't feel what you felt at that moment, but hearing you talk about it really made me put myself in your shoes and think about the future. nothing is certain, the future is unpredictable and we could all one day be in your shoes.

    You are doing a good job spreading Autism awareness on the Epic community.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences

  21. I just read your broken heart post. I came by here from the wonderful work you do for the Epic 4G community. You are definitely spreading autism awareness. We have another friend with an autistic child as well. While my 2 little girls are healthy, I can understand how you feel as a parent with children in need. Please hang in there. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Thank you.

  22. I just reposted you on our FB page with the hopes…that something wonderful happens to you soon. My husband and I have a farmer's market in Richmond, VA that sells farm food straight from the farm and we have so many families on the spectrum who shop with us, because our food is clean and nutritious. We have fallen in love with our spectrum families and have a beautiful, symbiotic relationship with them. Your post moved me deeply today and I just wanted to say that you will be blessed. Stay compassionate and loving.

    • Sophie on February 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I have read and re-read your blog over and over againg and the tears don't lessen. Your experience echoes fears that I have for my little boy. Jason just turned 2, medically diagnosed at 21 months old, and I still have difficulties some days with talking about his autism without tears in my eyes. We need to come together and raise awareness about autism for our children…we need for the future of our children to be accepted and better than how it is for the bare handed man.

  23. ((hugs)) I hope you get respite or a break soon. Sounds like you really, really need one.

    • SM on February 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    …I sobbed while reading this. I'm a single mom to an autistic little boy and I worry every single day what will happen when I'm no longer around for him. Thank you for helping that man…because you didn't just help him… you helped ALL of our special kids with that one moment of kindness.

    • cassio on February 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Have you guys heard of the GAPS diet? I hope so. I think it offers help for anyone struggling with autism-it really makes sense and the results are amazing, its hard work but totally worth it. a simple explanation:

    • Rita on February 25, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    The last $20 is in your account. In dollars you are now back to square one but your heart is now bigger both in caring for this man and your family. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

    • tara on February 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    We also have a 10 year old son with autism. I think of these things all the time. I pray that the world has more people like you and less people like the lady in the car.

  24. I just clicked the donate button to send you $10.

    And I'm sharing this post on Facebook.

    Thank you for posting this. We are all in this together.

    God bless you and your family.

    • Marilyn on February 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    OK, I cried. As a mom of nine, three of whom have Down Syndrome and other special needs (ADHD, OCD, SID, and other issues), I TOTALLY related to you, and to this experience. Without the assistance and love of their siblings, this man's experience could have been what my own precious daughters would have experienced in their adult years–a terrifying thought! Keep on fighting–there are a lot of us out here who are fighting along with you!

    • flyers2114 on February 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks Rob for sharing this….its a real eye opener…your generosity will be paid back for sure! Also i called your beta team out a little bit in the thread…i think they needed it….if not then they need to not test….see what ya think…If you think I was over the line let me know….peace bro! and get some rest!!!

    1. I had a huge list of people that wanted to test. I picked my PPCGeeks guys (yourself included) and a few other people that just HAD to test…. I need to weed some people out that aren't helping and make room for those that will. Thanks for looking out.

  25. Thank you for sharing your experience, it was a powerful recount.

    A couple years ago I went to Wal-Mart in middle of winter, in the dead of night (around 3am). It was extremely cold, icy and very windy that evening. I bought whatever I needed and excited the store. A middle aged black man was in the parking lot gathering shopping carts to take back into the store. The parking lot was desolate, devoid of people or cars. Again it was very cold and windy. I drove past the man gathering the shopping carts and recognized him from my past trips to this Wal-Mart. He seemed to be mentally challenged or at least mildly special (is that politically correct? I'm trying to describe him honestly/accurately without any derogatory meaning). Time seemed to stand still as I saw him our in the frigid dark of night. I slowed down as I neared him and rolled down my window. I said, "Excuse me sir, I can tell you are a hard worker and I just wanted to thank you for working so hard." and handed him a folded $5 bill. His face lit up like I had just handed him a check for a million dollars. I'm still not sure whether he was so excited from:
    1. Anyone cared to stop and talk to him
    2. He was recognized for working hard
    3. $5 bucks
    I look back now and think, jeez I should have given him more money. Even so, the feeling I had from seeing the sheer look of joy and happiness on his face was absolutely the high point of my life at that time. It put things into perspective and reminded me that everything is relative.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    • Rounsy222 on February 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Wow, amazing story. That was an eye opener for me. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Kris on February 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Rob
    I have a 10yo boy with autism and a 12yo girl with Aspergers. I single parented them for most of their lives.
    My daughter is eccentric but will lead a fairly normal life; I don't know what will happen to my son 🙁
    It is important that we continue to share our autism stories and it is important that we plan for our childrens futures. I'm not sure how things with there in USA but in NZ I have already started planning. If you want to email me, I'd love to continue communicating. With respect, Kris

    • Lenin on February 25, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this story!

  26. Rob and Lizze,

    My mother is concerned what will happen to me if she dies. So am I. Your children need to know our neices and nephews and their children intimately so that they will never let them be alone. Family is everything and special social services is needed. It is a most frightening realization to know you won't always be there, so much more so with children who will never grow up. It saddens me that this is your reality. You helped that man out there. It doesn't matter whether or not he uses your gift properly or not. What matters is that you saw the face of Christ and did not abandoned him.

  27. Your kindness and generosity will come back to you threefold when you least expect it. It's so heartwarming what you did for that man. I hope one day he gets back on his feet and can help someone else. Kindness starts as a ripple and spreads from there. Blessings to you and yours, Rob. 🙂

    • Nora on February 25, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Reading about your experience brought me to tears. We have 2 autistic sons, and just thinking about the day that my husband and I aren't here to care for them anymore is my greatest fear in life. Bless your heart for they way you treated that poor man. It sounds like your family has the same financial struggles that my own family has, however, I can honestly say that I would have done exactly the same thing you did. I pray that awareness can be raised to the point where people can recognize someone on the spectrum and respond to them appropriately. Again, bless you.

    • Claire on February 25, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Rob, I can't get the lump out of my throat. It hits home about my feelings about the future. You are amazing parents. I will continue to read your experiences and please don't stop sharing. I am a single parent to a boy I took into my home at age 3 and is now 12. I worry everyday about HIS future.

    1. I have been forever changed by this experience and I hope that everyone that reads this will remember the bare handed man..

      Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Cara on February 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Sharing this, yes, people do need to know. Having children with special needs is difficult, but still doable because they are small and we're still here- this is what so many of us are focused on every day, but looking into the future (somewhere I try not to look too often since it leaves me as a teary unproductive mess) is so much harder.

    • Martin on February 25, 2011 at 7:15 am

    As a Father of a child with Autism this really hit home. My wife and I also fear what will happen to our son when we are no longer here, but try not to think about it.

    • Lesley on February 25, 2011 at 6:01 am

    I promise you that if you aren't there and your children need help (whether I know who they are or not) I'll follow your lead and stop and help. Not everyone will pass by.

    1. I can be counted in as well. I will not turn my back on anyone in need even if all I have is my hand to reach out and get them safely where they need to be.

  28. Thanks everyone. This has had such a profound effect on me. Things need to change.

    • Debbie on February 25, 2011 at 4:58 am

    Rob What you did was beyond amazing and wonderful. This CAN happen to our kids Marc and I worry about it everyday. Specialy at times when Marc lives in his own world. (you know what thats is like with Gavin). This story broke my heart also something has to be done for the homeless and for our kids!! love you guys can't wait to see you guys again ((((((((hugs)))))))))))

    • Day on February 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    FINALLY someone talks about the constant fear parents of special need children go through everyday. I constantly think about what would happen to MY daughter if i was to be gone today, tommorow next week. I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting this up. WE HAVE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD, CURE AUTISM NOW!!

    • Jim on February 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Well, now you got $20 back from my donation 🙂

      • Jim on February 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      Oh and I use use midnightROM too!

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