Boy with Autism Saved Family from Joplin Tornado
9-year-old Maddox Prier suffers from autism and only started talking at age 5. When the deadly tornado struck Joplin Missouri, the boy uttered four precise words that saved his family: “I hear the horns.”
With autism, Maddox has a difficult time expressing himself in words. “He still has those social behaviors where he does not express feelings. Mainly because he doesn’t understand what your feelings are, let alone how his are,” explained mom Janyce Prier. “We would tell him, ‘Oh, I love you’ and he would just be like, you know, it was just not something that he conveyed.”
Luckily for the family, Maddox understood the gravity of the situation, as he warns his family of the tornado sirens.
“I’d actually gone to bed and my husband had dozed off on the couch,” recounted Janyce. “My youngest son was playing video games and he woke him up and said, “I hear the horns.”‘
The family sat huddled in the bathtub, as the storm destroyed everything around them.
“We were laying on the floor of the bedroom, and I was just looking at Maddox, and I was like, ‘I love you Maddox,’ and he goes, ‘I love you too, Mommy’ and he’s never said it since,” Janyce said wistfully. “That was the first time he’d ever said it. I bawled and bawled.”
The house and neighborhood were completely destroyed by the tornado. Without Maddox’s warning, the family may not have been alive today.
“I don’t remember anything about the tornado hitting our house,” Janyce added. “I just, I guess in there somewhere, I just didn’t want to be afraid, so the last thing I wanted to feel was that I loved everybody so, that’s what I did.”
A year after the tornado struck, Janyce and her family are still undergoing therapy to deal with the emotional aftermath of the storm. As for our little hero, Maddox is doing well in school and enjoying his video games.
Watch the amazing interview as well as up-close coverage of the Joplin tornado.