ATLANTA — There was outrage in 2019 when video spread of a boy with Down syndrome was found wandering around Grady Hospital alone.
Atlanta Police said had been abandoned there, and that's all anyone knew initially. In the two years since, 11Alive has learned so much more about Sheldon and his Mom, Diana.
Diana Elliot said that one moment, the worst moment of her life, is all anyone knew about her family. Doctors, police officers, and thousands of people online were all judging her for it.
However, she said it’s what happened next that matters.
Diana is proud of her son. What she struggles with is whether or not he's proud of her.
"He didn't behave like he was mad to see me. It was like, 'Where you at? Where you been,'" she said.
Sheldon, who has Down syndrome and is nonverbal, was 13 when Diana left him at Grady. She said she was overwhelmed and alone with three other kids to care for when she dropped him off there in the ER.
She said she couldn't eat, couldn't sleep until police came for her. They charged her with child cruelty and abandonment.
"In my mind, I didn't abandon him. In my mind, I asked for help. That's where my mind was. I literally felt helpless, and a week before that, I was contemplating suicide. So when I tell you, it was my last straw. What stopped me was I didn't want my babies to find me like that," she said.
She moved to Atlanta from Ohio to try and start an acting career. She even brought her kids to a few auditions. But she couldn't find support for Sheldon in the Georgia school system and she struggled to find work.
She said her family was sleeping in the airport for warmth and standing on the side of the road to beg for food.
"I tried to turn it into a fun thing. I was like, 'well, let's make signs.' And we did coloring. Like, those signs were so bright," she said.
She said she thought people would help her when they saw how hard she was trying --- she just wanted to succeed.
Instead, she was arrested and vilified online.
"I wish I had thought about it, though, because I didn't want to have it like that for them. I didn’t. I still feel guilty as a mom. Some of the things that we went through because I wanted to follow my dreams," she said.
The charges against her were dropped and she's moved back to Ohio to be close to her kids. She doesn't have custody, but shares visitation with her ex-husband.
She's trying to figure out what her life will look like now, what their future will look like as a family. She wants them to be proud of her, too.
Diana said she hasn't given up on her dreams and still performs under the name Lady Lyric. She said she wanted to talk about what happened to highlight how hard it is for special needs parents to succeed.