Lawyers who took care of him say his death suggests the system still needs so much work.
ATLANTA – We have heartfelt news about a family we’ve been following for years at 11Alive; 16-year-old Sheldon Linden has died.
His story hit national headlines when mom landed it in Grady, a friend.
Then she told us that she no longer knew how to care for him and that the system was broken.
Now defenders who cared for Sheldon say his death suggests the system still needs so much work.
“He was just a boy. He wanted to play with his stuffed animals, ”said Cheryl Arno, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association in Atlanta.
She loved spending time with Sheldon and loved seeing his younger siblings take care of him as well.
“When I saw his pictures with his siblings, they fell in love with him,” Arno said. “And they are devastated.”
She first met Sheldon after his mother left him at Grady’s hospital alone.
In years to come the boy’s mother will say 11 Alive that she loved her son, she just couldn’t get him the help he needed
“Diana left him at Grady because the systems are broken and she’s broken. It’s not because she’s a bad mom. The systems are broken. And we need to do better,” Arnault explained.
Sheldon’s case highlighted the shortcomings of the disability service in Georgia, and the 16-year-old became an inspiration for series on 11 Alive aims to change that.
“The system is just so broken and so unfair. And there is such a disparity,” Arnault added.
She explained that Sheldon was in pain over the weekend, but her parents told her that when they brought him to the hospital, doctors sent him home.
He died at his father’s house early Monday morning.
“All people with Down syndrome are not always happy. And not all of them like to hug. And sometimes they hurt, and people just do not listen to them,” – added Arno.
Fortunately, the Down Syndrome Association in Atlanta listened to Sheldon.
They raised money to support him – to help find the right doctors and prescribe therapy.
When his family returned to Ohio, the organization sent Sheldon Christmas presents and bought his family mattresses for their new home.
However, Arno said it was hard for her to know that was not enough.
“I have to sit here as a lawyer and say that maybe he’s calm now. And it breaks my heart for any child that being dead would be better than the systems he has to go through – that weren’t prepared for his or his family – take care of them properly, ”she said.
Arnaud added that Sheldon’s death would push her to work harder, speak louder to be heard by the next child.
“He was a child. He was a child who deserved more,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sheldon’s family is still planning his funeral.
The board of the Down Syndrome Association in Atlanta will help them with the cost of his funeral.