This is one of the most difficult posts I have had to write. But it needs to be said and people need to be informed. The past few weeks I have posted a few times and been in a bad place- depressed, anxious, scared, feeling helpless. And my children are 3 and 6. I have barely begun this journey, which is a thought that overwhelms me too much to consider on a daily basis.
I’m sure that most of you recall the story of the mother who attempted to kill her autistic son with a sleeping pill overdose and when that didn’t work, she stabbed him to death. It’s a horrendous story, not only for the evil act perpetrated by the mother but for the lack of help that she felt was available to her. That’s one such story.
Today I need to tell you another one. Of a well-respected, autism advocate, blogging mom who is about to be charged with the attempted murder of her 14 year old autistic daughter. They were found unconscious in their van with charcoal grills burning inside and the windows rolled up, thus, carbon monoxide poisoning. I read her blog, not all the time, but I read it. It is very popular. She is well-educated; her husband is an elementary school principal. Her community was involved and supportive. But her daughter had a propensity for extreme violence, making a peaceful home life impossible and educational placement of course problematic. When I think about the fights I take on every single day for each of my boys and add another 9 years to it, and add violence towards mom to the equation, it makes my heart sick.
A little more about this family:
Here is what I can say with confidence. These feelings do not happen overnight, this type of desperation does not happen overnight. Her love for her daughter is clearly written in post after post after post. Can we call this woman an evil person? I personally don’t think so. She did a horrible horrible thing, and my heart goes out to her daughter, her husband and the rest of her family. Did they see this coming? I am sure not. So if I feel blind sighted right now, imagine how they must feel. And I am not alone in the autism community; below I will share with you just two of the MANY reactive posts I have seen today:
Stories like these demonstrate the darker side of what can happen to even the strongest parents faced with the challenges that autism brings. Fighting every single day to give your child what they need and DESERVE is exhausting, it’s disheartening, and your heart and spirit will start to break after a while. Rarely, if ever, is a needed service provided without fuss. The parents dealing with these issues feel isolated, they feel powerless, and just when things may seem to be heading in a good direction the rug can be pulled right out from under them yet again and they are right back at the beginning. This happens to me over and over again.
I want to say this to every single individual who has ever read my blog. Please keep reading. Know that my frustrations are very typical of what other autism parents go through, that my depression, anxiety, fearfulness, and occasional hopelessness are not unique nor are they odd. Please accept my family’s life as reality and know that we are some of the lucky ones- we have had people back out of our lives, but the vast majority of people have supported and loved us. And our children. To those of you who contact me regularly, please don’t stop. Even if I don’t reply sometimes, your words are like a mental burst of energy. You are building me up to deal with what I need to do. You are helping my children. I have other autism parents that I at the very least, instant message with every single day. We need to keep doing this, and hearing each other. We need the reminder that we are not alone, that someone understands, that someone is there. .
I am not suggesting that this could happen with any of the families I have been in contact with (although if I’m being honest- it just did, right?)- what I am saying is that we can all imagine and to a certain extent even empathize with what she was feeling, with what drove her to this point.
Look at her blog entry from September 3rd:
Look at what happened on the 4th. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots.
We need to be there for each other. And we need to pray for this family.