Friday, September 6, 2013

What's Clear to Me

This week another mother has tried to kill her autistic child.  A few months ago the autistic world was buzzing with the story of Alex Spourdalakis.  Autistic advocacy groups are calling very loudly for the mothers in both cases to be charged with a hate crime.

Autism mothers and people everywhere are buzzing.  Reactions range from shock and eventually gravitate to anger at mothers who committed the most horrible and unimaginable of acts.

Some mothers are directing their anger, not toward these mothers, but toward systems which are severely broken, who cannot deal with the severely autistic, to the system charged with supporting these parents who provided little or no services with little or no compassion.  

Look, my brand of autism is *nothing* like what these parents are dealing with.  I can't even pretend it is.  I have not gone through what these mothers went through.  We've had our frustrations, sure, we've had people who were supposed to be supporting us, teachers, therapists and so forth be less interested, less flexible, less willing to work together with us.  All things considered though, most of the people involved in our autism journey so far have been caring, kind and helpful.  My daughter has her issues and autism impacts her life, sure.  She has challenges.  Her life is impacted.

BUT, autism is not fracturing her life.  She is challenged, not debilitated by autism.

In both of these cases, both mothers travelled a very long road advocating for their children.  Their children were severely debilitated and these mothers spent a very long time fighting for their children and they were seemingly turned away from the very system that was supposed to help them, numerous times.

I cannot imagine what Alex's and Issy's mothers lived through with their children, how extraordinarily hard their daily lives must have been, how tired, frazzled and frustrated their every day existence was, with no relief in sight.  I know how stressed I get when Maya has a bad couple of days and our bad days are not microscopically similar to what these mothers endured every single day.  To watch your children in such agony, to do everything within your power to help them every day, to have the system have no place for your child.

I firmly believe that these two mothers should be punished for their crimes.  They are legally responsible and should be tried and if found guilty, punished.  I don't believe, as many autistic mothers have said,  that living with what they have done is enough punishment or that they deserve special considerations because of what they and their children had to endure.

Still, I cannot sign any petition that charges these women with a hate crime.  It was a crime of desperation after a system so completely failed both them and their children.  I also can't go so far as to put the entire blame on the system.  The system desperately needs to be fixed.

Or more children will die.

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