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“Autism is…Not an Excuse to Hurt or Kill your Kids” was originally published on April 4, 2012 by The Domestic Goddess (thedgoddess.com). Reprinted with permission by Marj Hatzell, author of The Domestic Goddess. All rights reserved.
The past few years it seems as though there has been a rash of autism-related murders. The media is quick to pick up on a story of a stressed-out parent who “can’t take any more” and martyrs themself and kills their child to “put them out of their misery.” Then recognition on the Internets, then massive dialogues, and then comments from people saying, “I feel so badly for the mother/father/caretaker” or “It’s sooooo hard, I understand.” Guess what? It IS hard sometimes. Very difficult, in fact. And often, it downright sucks. The sleepless nights, the poo/pee all over my house, the constant cleaning, the sleep deprivation, the house in various states of disrepair, the appointments, the lack of support, the lack of funds, cancelled vacations, no vacations, public meltdowns…all so very, very stressful.
It’s still wrong.
If any other parent murdered their child there would be vigils for the child, stuffed animals piled and candles lit. Schools would hold little memorial services. Churches would have special services to allow neighbors to grieve together.
Would people be angry and upset if a parent killed their blind, deaf, Down syndrome, wheelchair-bound child?
So why aren’t they angry about autism? Why aren’t vigils and protests held for them?
Maybe because the parents of autistic kids tend to kill themselves when they murder their child. Or at least attempt it. They make it into an act of desperation, a final cry for help. They “snap.” And neighbors always say, “S/he was so stressed out. They needed help. They said they couldn’t do it anymore.” Because the autistics were so difficult to deal with.
And then you get comments like this.
IT’S STILL WRONG.
We can dissect this as much as we want, point fingers of blame, blame lack of social services, blame budget cuts, blame lack of resources…it’s still wrong.
And the fact remains that people continue to murder their disabled children. And others condone it, excuse it, support the stressed-out parents. And no one feels badly for these poor souls, these children and adults,murdered at the hands of the very people who have pledged to love them unconditionally, through their lives. I’ll be honest. I don’t give a rat’s ass about their parents once they’ve made that decision and crossed that line. They don’t get to choose whether their child lives or dies. This is about a lack of respect and acceptance of the disabled. It’s about considering disabled members of society lesser-than their “normal” counterparts. You can tell a lot about a society by the way they treat their most vulnerable members – their disabled, their children, their elderly. And I’m sickened and saddened for ours.
So go ahead and call me smug and superior. Call me judgmental. Accuse me of vilifying others or casting stones. I just happen to think that killing your child because they are autistic is wrong. And I’m entitled to my own opinion. This, my friends, is why awareness is NOT enough. We must have acceptance. This is why negative campaigns by huge, corporate charities are dangerous. This is why ditzy blonde ex-playboy bunnies are causing issues. Because people are afraid of autism. They hate it. And hate causes murder.
ETA: I wanted to add some resources for people who may need help. If you are at the end of your rope, please, please, PLEASE call someone. A friend, family member, clergy person. Dnt have those? Call 1-800-4A-CHILD (child abuse hotline), contact Your local Autism Society of America group or even contact Someone through Autism Speaks. Someone can help.