Mother of abandoned child with Down syndrome had accepted, rejec - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Mother of abandoned child with Down syndrome had accepted, rejected help

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The 6-year-old girl and her mother received help from the advocacy group Down Syndrome of Louisville for the first three years of her life. The 6-year-old girl and her mother received help from the advocacy group Down Syndrome of Louisville for the first three years of her life.
Diana Merzweiler Diana Merzweiler
Anna Johnson Anna Johnson

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Help was available to a Louisville mother accused of abandoning her 6-year-old daughter with Down syndrome. In fact, she and the little girl used the aid, but apparently, the mother stopped once the little girl was too old to attend the infants-and-toddlers program.

The 6-year-old girl, whom Louisville Metro police said was abandoned by her mother days ago, had gotten help from the advocacy group Down syndrome of Louisville for the first three years of her life.

"She and her mother had completed our First Steps program," executive director Diana Merzweiler said. "But to get help beyond that, you have to ask for it. The mother did not come back."

"It really makes me angry because I could never imagine leaving my children, especially one with a disability, by herself," the girl's neighbor, Anna Johnson, said Tuesday.

Johnson discovered the girl covered in her own waste when she walked through her neighbor's open door Monday.  

"She gave me a big hug and I was like, ‘where's Mommy?'" Johnson said. "I took her upstairs and called 911. It was pretty bad."

"The calls that have come into our office, from our fellow parents," Merzweiler said. "They're saying ‘Oh, what do they need? How can we help?'"

Merzweiler believes such empathy comes naturally. A bond made even stronger now that other Down syndrome families know that the girl and her mother were former clients.

"If you know that they're going through tough times, you want to be there, to help them."

For 35 years Down syndrome of Louisville has provided education, training and moral support for families in more than 20 Kentuckiana counties. 

Because Federal laws ensure medical privacy, and Kentucky statutes give law officers and service providers little leeway in discussing the girl's status, officers can't release the girl's name, nor her mother's. Police said as of Tuesday the mother is not facing criminal charges, but they have not completed their investigation.

Merzweiler said Down syndrome of Louisville could have provided any number of services to the girl and to her mother, some of them paid for through Medicaid. Among the programs; Respite, a time-out form caregiving.

"It's not a glorified daycare," Merzweiler said. "Respite also can be skill-building in relationship to the child's development too."

Merzweiler confirmed Home of the Innocents took custody of the girl. She also said a foster parent with ties to her organization has agreed to become a caregiver.

"We will be part of her life again," Merzweiler said.

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