I’ve been chewing on this for a day now. How to say this. How to make a statement that rings clear enough without being overly emotional or sentimental. Hell, I don’t even know how to START talking about this, let alone do so with any sense of logic.
A few days ago a mother killed her child. A 4 year-old child. She was a stay-at-home mom. That child had been diagnosed with Autism.
Articles about this abound–but it is one statement from News Channel 10 in San Diego that felt like a knife to my heart:
“San Diego police sources told 10News Corby was a stay-at-home mother pushed to the edge handling a difficult child with autism.”
With that simple little sentence, blame was placed squarely on the child. You know–the one who DIED. As if he weren’t even human.
Suddenly the outpouring of “concern” for the mother and the “hardships” she had to bear begin.
- ” I hope the media and health professionals team up to advise parents there are resources to help you deal with an autistic child.”
- “…people just don’t get it…the daily drain of dealing with a difficult child.”
- “It is financially, mentally, emotionally, and socially devastating to have a child with autism. As the child matures into an adult there are very few services. The future at this moment in time is bleak for people with autism.
- I have stories where the most sane people in our community have snapped and done weird things with their autistic child because of the extreme behaviors that can be present. It is sad and tragic. We need more supports for families and people with autism. Autism is now an epidemic that no one is addressing adequately.”
(emphasis added by ME)
I read comments like this and think–am I wrong to vent my frustrations? Do people REALLY think an Autism diagnosis is the end of the world? Look at the choice in words I highlighted: bleak, deal with, devastating. I read this and it makes me want to stop blogging. Because statements like this take this woman–this alleged murderer–from the realm of Susan Smith and Casey Anthony–women HATED by society when they snapped and (allegedly) murdered their own neurotypical children–to someone who needs “compassion” and “understanding” for the “hardships”with which she had to deal.
Does no one else see they hypocrisy here? And the very dangerous slippery slope created by this argument? By “justifying” this killing because she was “pushed to the edge” this news agency is perpetuating the argument that the lives of children and people with Autism, or any disability are not as valuable as those who are neurotypical.
Autism has many forms–it is a spectrum disorder after all. My son’s Autism is not the same as my friends, such as Marj or Sunday or Jill–but no matter the “hardships” we face, no matter how rock bottom we get, we all agree on one thing: hurting our child(ren) is NOT an option. Hell, I can’t even imagine hurting myself or my husband only because of the damage it would do to my child. IT. IS. NOT. AN. OPTION.
But moreover–why can we not address the fact that mothering–ON ANY LEVEL–can be difficult for some? Why is it assumed that this woman was mentally unstable, but that other women who murder their children are cold blooded killers? Again–this creates the argument that the diagnosis of a disability in your child is a free pass for crazy.
I know plenty of mothers of special needs and neurotypical children. I’ve seen some with picture-perfect catalog editions of children teetering on the edge of sanity and in need of a good therapist. I’ve seen some with kids on the far end of the spectrum, with violent, non-verbal children handle life with amazing aplomb and peace. Most of us–you know, every day folk with every sort of kid–manage, day to day, some good some bad, like people do. Parenting any child can be a challenge for some, and NONE of that has to do with our kids’ abilities or challenges. It has everything to do with a person’s readiness to parent, to grow, to deal with society, and the media portrayal of parenting, and how much they plan to use or ignore it. It has everything to do with a person’s readiness to lose a bit of themselves, and sacrifice, and be selfless–SELFLESS–no matter the cost. It has everything to do with that person. PERIOD. We don’t blame children for divorce do we? Or for financial ruin? or for any of the other adult choices we make? Because if you do, then frankly, you are still a child yourself.
Our job here as parents to to raise these lil larvae so that they can become butterflies.
Do there need to be more outlets for parents? YES. Does access to services need to be more transparent? YES. Do we need to erase the stigma of mental illness and the fear of seeking help? YES, YES and YES.
We also need to recognize that Autism is NOT a death sentence. We need to stop scaring folks that is is so horrific, so “bleak” that it is an excuse for idiocy. We need people to be honest about Autism–the bad AND the good. Alongside the frustrations of parents, who need to vent and to find their own community, we need the success stories, the triumphs and the stories of beauty that come out of Autism. If the numbers continue to rise (and i have no doubt that they will) then we need to know the WHOLE story–and not just the fear mongering anecdotal tales of playboy bunnies with no talent.
We also need to realize that a 4-year-old boy died here. DIED. Allegedly at the hands of his mother. Whom he trusted implicitly. A 4-year-old who had value. A 4-year-old who deserved better.
I do not want to hear excuses. I do not want to be told I should have compassion–told to me by the same people who told me I am part of the problem when I didn’t think Casey Anthony should be sentenced to death.
If we are to have compassion–then we have to be more liberal in its application. Compassion, I’m afraid, is not conditional. If you doubt that–ask this guy.
I, for one, will admit I am a little unforgiving on this one. My heart right now is for that little boy’s father, and family. And for that little life. Just a year younger than my own son. My son with Autism. Who deserves every chance he can get, and whose life–no matter what the media tries to say for sake of ratings–has value. Beyond measure.
You may reprint this piece “Playing the Blame Game” (and only this piece) as long as credit is given to the Author, Dawn Hentrich. This post may not be edited, but you can use excerpts. Please include a link to This Side of Typical.
Originally published on This Side of Typical (http://thissideoftypical.com) on April 5, 2012 by Author Dawn Hentrich. All rights reserved.