The news about autism this summer has been difficult.
A Bronx mother killed her 12-year-old autistic son Wednesday night before taking her own life, the July 29th New York Daily News reports. Last week, a mother in Dallas killed her two young autistic children. Another New York city mother and a mother in Wales killed their autistic sons earlier this year. A Colorado mother killed her baby because she thought he might be autistic. A Chinese mother who admitted to killing her autistic daughter in Canada walked free from prison. And many in the autism community will remember the case of Dr. Karen McCarron, an Indiana woman who killed her young autistic daughter, Katherine, and was sentenced to 36 years in prison in 2008.
Are there really more parents—mothers—killing their autistic children?
Is it rather that, due to the explosion of interest in autism in the past decade, the media is reporting more about such crimes?
I don’t know. I’m not sure that we can know.
The Rise of Autism Awareness in the Past Decade
All the interest in autism in the past couple of years has been fueled by the efforts to raise awareness about autism, by organizations like the Autism Society of America and Autism Speaks. There have been many, many more books, blogs, movies, charity fundraising events, more everything, all with the general belief that, by increasing the amount of information available to the public, people will understand more about autism and things will be better. Things will be better from better services, more understanding in the community, school programs.
But is all this autism awareness really helping autistic individuals and their families and caretakers? Or is it just promoting a rather sensationalistic and tragic view of what life with autism is?
For myself, I’m sticking with the example of the late Clara Claiborne Park, for whom the ‘last word’ was ‘still love’—-love and, for my husband Jim and me, a hectic, difficult, and richly meaningful, and good, life with our son Charlie.
Photo by the author.