I don’t believe I have to write about this.
Another person (this time an award-winning autism blogger) questioned “how much a parent who has ‘reached the point of desperation’ can be blamed.”
I don’t want to be picky about this, but I’m going to have to be.
If you’ve reached your breaking point, get help. If you have to abandon your child to the state and face charges for it, then take that option.
Murder is not an option.
I don’t care that the blogger said that “you have to wonder what happens that an otherwise loving mother can feel like this is the only option or that this is the best option.”
No, you don’t have to wonder. You know – she’s feeling beyond overwhelmed, and she probably has some sort of mental breakdown. I get that. It happens. But even then, it’s murder. And in this case, the murder seems to have been at least partially planned. The mother, on YouTube, said that she was thinking of “pulling a Thelma and Louise” before she tossed her kid off the bridge.
It also doesn’t help when “experts” like Dee Shepherd-Look (a psych professor at California State University) make statements like, “quite frankly, I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often…these children are really unable to be in a reciprocal relationship and the moms don’t really experience the love that comes back from a child.”
What. The. Fuck.
Now, I know that I may be in the lucky group. Simon loves hugs, he loves attention, he interacts (albeit in very limited ways). But even when that interaction and communication was more limited than it is now, I would never consider murder as an option.
Do we also consider murder as an option when someone is deaf? Blind? In any other way impaired? I mean, what is the deciding line for it, in the opinion of this “expert”? Who gets a free pass to kill a child? Because if it’s just when you hit a certain level of frustration, I think every child would probably be dead before the end of their teens.
Murder is not an option.
Autism is not – and should not – be a death sentence.
Oh, and go sign this petition!
While we were on vacation last week in Alabama, we took a boat ride. It was a three hour tour (but the weather never got rough, and the tiny boat was not tossed). But there was a woman on the boat that very clearly had autism.
She was older, my guess is in her twenties, maybe late twenties.
And she seemed, to all outward appearances, to be happy.
She rocked, although, to be fair, we all rocked since we were on a boat. She stimmed. She used sign language to communicate, and she seemed to argue with one of the people with her – her father, maybe? – who kept getting frustrated. She was signing something I couldn’t quite figure out (she was superfast as it), but I saw her saying something about little, and he kept saying something big. No idea what it was. But he got frustrated with her because she wouldn’t give.
Otherwise, she sat there, beaming happy. Her hair was blonde; her eyes were blue. She wore a charm bracelet that included all types of charm, including an autism puzzle charm.
And it gave me hope. Hope that in another 10 years, when Simon would be about the same age I’d guessed her to be, he’d be able to communicate that well, argue rationally, stimming in public without judgment.
As it was, Simon filled the boat ride with lots of “tv talk” (a lot of Elmo, for some reason), and paced up and down, back and forth, touching everything he could safely touch, his sea legs fully under him, looking like he barely needed to make any adjustments because of all the rocking and rolling the boat was doing in the waves.
I wanted to talk to the woman and her family, ask questions, know their story.
But that’s not my right. It’s their story, and it’s their life, and I wouldn’t normally go up and talk to random strangers, but, at the same time, I’d love to have random strangers come up to me and ask me about Simon because I’d love to educate them about him and about us and try to show them that autism isn’t some unsurmountable evil, and that as long as we can handle its side effects (anxiety, aggression, lack of communication), then there’s no reason to do anything else. As long as Simon can function and be happy, who are any of us to judge that he needs a “cure”? that he needs to change to fit in? That he has to enjoy things in a certain way? That there’s a right way and a wrong way to live and be happy?
Acceptance can go a long way, and seeing other people being accepting, being happy, being out there – it tells me that acceptance is happening.
I followed a link about a cat because, well, it’s Caturday, and there’s a law that says you must. Or so I’ve been told.
It led me to the tale of Mercury the Kitten.
Mercury, at a very, very young age, lost his two front legs in a weed whacker accident.
But now he struts around like a t-rex, happy, content, and able to do anything and everything he wants to do. He’s one cool cat.
Then I scrolled down to the comments section because sometimes the comments are the best part of a site. And that’s where I saw it. A posting from “kim moore.”
Kim posted: “youre so wrong i actually rescue animals and have kids and 5 cats of my own and they r spoiled rotten i think keeping this kitty alive is selfish and its cruel what does a cat use more than its front paws ? it makes me cry to see this cat some people dont know when to pull the plug people think euthanizing an animal is is so horrible its painless and reserves a spot in life people keep pets around like this for selfish reasons……..its an adorable kitty but get over the selfishness already and no not everything or everyone should live theres a time when it turns into cruelty” (And, yes, I purposely kept in all her misspellings and grammatical errors because, hey, if nothing else, we can pick on that.)
Keeping in mind the kitten in question is not having any problems. The kitten in question is a happy little kitten who doesn’t seem to even really know that’s there’s something wrong with it. The kitten doesn’t seem to think there’s anything cruel about its existence. It plays with string. It plays with kitties. It runs around on its back legs.
Other responses tell her “you sound like quite a bad person” and that she’s “way beyond wrong.” One person (named Kate, but I swear it’s not me!) even told her, “You are the cruel one. You are the selfish one. Everyone DOES deserve a chance at life.”
Another person pointed out that they were born with a disability. “…it’s really too bad that someone didn’t put me down when I was a baby. Those optimistic bastards…how could they have known I’d find a full, happy life?”
The responses from other people give me hope, but then there’s an immutable fact to also keep in mind.
“Kim” said it.
She believed it.
She is not alone.
Like back in August of 2013, when there was the “letter from a pissed off mother” who suggested that a boy with autism be euthanized.
Like the fact that a number of people with autism (and those of us who love someone with autism) were outraged when Autism Speaks again presented people with autism as a burden – ““I am autism. I have no interest in right or wrong. I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams….And if you’re happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails. Your money will fall into my hands, and I will bankrupt you for my own self-gain,” says the video campaign.”
Like an unnamed (because I really can’t/shouldn’t name him) college professor who, when a counselor told him that he needed to make accommodation for a student who was going blind, asked, “But aren’t there special schools for those kinds of people?”
I honestly just cannot comprehend the mindset of some people. Do they not realize that everyone is different? That everyone has different abilities and problems? That one day, sooner or later, they will either be dead or very possibly relying on someone to help them get through life? Will they choose euthanasia when it comes to be their time? When they break a leg or develop a severe allergy or other condition that makes them unable to live like a “normal” person?
While some disabilities and conditions are fatal, there should always be hope, and there should always be at least a modicum of understanding for those who are different, for those who are atypical, for those who are not identical to us.
In the case of “Kim’s” Caturday posting, I can’t help but think she got selfishness confused with compassion. Luckily for her, while she might have the selfish part down, a lot of other people have the compassion.