I remember watching “Autism Every Day,” knowing in advance that it would be a problem for me. I was warned. But it was worse than I had imagined. (No, I’m not going to link to it.)
At the time, I was struggling. Raising three children with autism, even with adequate supports, is difficult. When there are problems with the supports or the supports are inadequate, it’s worse—a lot worse. I’m not one to minimize that. Nor is it wrong to express that.
BUT…and this is a big, huge BUT…
It’s one thing to express frustration, to express our feelings of being overwhelmed, our feelings of betrayal, our feelings of inadequacy and all those negative feelings that go along with them…and it’s a whole different thing to fantasize about killing one’s child.
AND…another big one…
It’s yet another thing to tape record ourselves fantasizing about killing our children for a viewing audience to raise funds for…well, for anything. I don’t care if you’re raising funds for Murders Anonymous (to my knowledge there is no such organization, but then again society has yet to cease to amaze me), you just don’t do it. Not if you’re an ethical person, not if you’re a loving parent.
Why not? Really, if you need an answer… [grumbling to self] Because murder is wrong. Because murdering an innocent child is especially wrong. Because murdering your own innocent child is even more especially wrong. Because fantasizing about murdering your child brings you one step closer to actually doing it. Because publicizing your fantasy is actually advocating that mind-space. Because advocating that mind-space could lead to other people—people who are mentally ill and not altogether reasonable—thinking that mind-space is safe, justified, and right.
I must admit that I cannot imagine what it would take to fantasize about murdering my children. I cannot imagine it. I cannot imagine the mind-space Alison was in when she thought about that. I cannot imagine the mind-space of the people who’ve followed through with their gruesome fantasies. I have had some very low points. I know despair. I really, really do. But even at my lowest point I never once fantasized about killing my kids. I cannot even imagine it.
My advice for people in that mind-space—seriously without any humor or any sarcasm—is this: GET PSYCHIATRIC HELP NOW!!! You know that moment that you realized—however it happened, whatever triggered it—that something was wrong (or “wrong”) with your child, that your child’s development was atypical, that you needed help to raise your child. If you fantasize about murdering your child, then you need to realize that there is something wrong with you and get the help you need. If you are having such fantasies, you have to realize IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR CHILD, you have to realize IT’S ABOUT YOU!!! There is something wrong with you.
Believe me, anything—yes anything—is better than murdering your child. If you do that, your child’s life is over. Done. There’s no coming back. There’s no recovery. There’s no hope. (Yes, I’m a Christian and I believe in the resurrection after death, and YES I’m still saying that, because you have NO RIGHT to send your child to heaven. God put your child on this earth for a purpose and YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to thwart that purpose by murdering your child, whatever your reasons may be.)
Consider the possibilities: If you have to put your child in a horrible school (Alison’s trigger), you can do something. You can advocate for changing the school, you make money to send the child to a private school, you can learn how to homeschool your child, you can move to another state or another country, you can DO something. If you kill your child, it’s OVER. You can’t do anything to help your child.
If you’re not getting the services and support you need, you can do something. You can advocate for change, you can ask family, friends, neighbors, hell even strangers for help. You can knock on the door of every agency in your county until you get a lead. You can apply for grants. You can build your own support network. You can DO something. If you kill your child, it’s OVER. You can’t do anything to help your child.
If you really can’t handle your child (or feed your child), then give your child up. Put your child in foster care. As horrible as foster care can be, it’s better than being DEAD. Even if the child will end up in an institution, being in an institution is better than being DEAD. Your child can recover from an institution. There are people who are working to change the system and help children just like yours. You can take your child out of foster care when you’re better. You can DO something. There’s a course of action, a way to help. If you kill your child, it’s OVER. There’s no next step. You can’t help your child any more, nor can anyone else.
If you are fantasizing about murdering your child, then I see two possibilities: Either you’re experiencing some kind of mental health issue or you are evil. Chances are it’s the first one.
Despair is not an excuse for fantasizing about murdering your child. Despair is certainly not an excuse for doing so on an internationally distributed video that makes it seem like it’s okay to murder autistic children.
Mental illness is not an excuse for fantasizing about murdering your child. Mental illness is certainly not an excuse for doing so on an internationally distributed video that makes it seem like it’s okay to murder autistic children.
There is no excuse for that kind of behavior. There’s no justification. There’s no reasonable explanation. And, by God, I hope that Alison has apologized to her daughter, because that’s what loving parents do when they’ve hurt their children. I also hope she finds it in herself to apologize to people with autism and to the world at large.
Now, back to Sharon’s post, I won’t write Alison off. I won’t write her Autism Science Foundation off. There is the possibility of redemption. There is the possibility of forgiveness. There is still the possibility to do some great good for people with autism.
But I won’t excuse her behavior either. What she did was wrong. There is no justification for it. There are no acceptable excuses. Her behavior was WRONG!!! Her words hurt people—real people with real feelings. She can’t explain it away and expect the people she hurt to just let it go. I can’t just let it go. I won’t. Not until she admits that what she did was wrong and apologizes. Because that’s what ethical, responsible people do.