Quick-thinking man helps autistic child found in abandoned home

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A quick-thinking man says he is responsible for finding a child with autism who wandered away from home Wednesday morning.

It was far from an ordinary morning for James Hubbard when he stepped into the driveway of his Central Gardens home.

“I noticed him on the third story and it seemed like he was halfway out,” he said pointing to a window. “He looked like he needed some help, and he looked like he was scared. So I asked him what he was doing up there and he said, ‘Working.’ I was like, ‘Is your dad up there?’ But I knew the home is getting renovated.”

Hubbard believes the child is around 12-years-old. He says he tried several times to get to the child, but failed. After a while the child stopped responding to his questions, so he called police.

Hubbard said police told him the boy was able to enter the abandoned home through an open crawl space. Investigators told us they first learned the child had disappeared just before 7:30 a.m. after his mother called. She told the officers she discovered he had left the home after she woke up.  He walked about half a mile from their Central Avenue apartment to where Hubbard found him.

While Hubbard waited for officers to arrive he took to social media and checked the Nextdoor app that allows neighbors to communicate. “I was going to post on Central Gardens, ‘Hey, you know, there’s a young man in a vacant home.” But he quickly saw his neighbors were already talking about the missing child and notified him he had been located.

Hubbard encourages others to communicate with those who live near you. “I think it’s very important. It deters crime and helps us stay connected.”

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