Thursday, September 19, 2013

The inexcusable

She was sick. I get that. She was probably tired. Afraid. Maybe alone. I get all that, too. 

Another child with autism has died at the hands of their mother. Once again the media has rallied to the defense. Once again the blame has been placed on the difficult nature of the child. There was no mention of the grievous loss of a life that ended too soon; of what might have been.

I have been struggling to find the right words to respond only to find there are no exact right words. Remove the "autism" and this act would be decried as senseless, inexcusable and tragic. There would be universal outrage. But because this child was diagnosed with autism, I am to believe her actions are understandable. That this child's life was unworthy of living.

Each time the media reports this way, they devalue the life every disabled child. They devalue my child. Each time the media spins the story suggesting an act of violence against a “difficult” child is acceptable; we are placed in the position of defending why we, as adults, have no right to harm any child.

Her life was hard, they said. The child was difficult.

I haven't lived this woman's life. I am not judging her mental health. I have lived a version of her life, though. I have lived through behaviors that are beyond challenging; I understand the kind of care that consumes a life. I understand despair. I understand fear. I understand endless sleepless nights. I understand exhaustion. I understand feeling alone. I understand. That a mother was of the belief she had no other choice is heartbreaking. 

There are options other than taking a life. The media needs to understand this.

I object to the notation it is somehow excusable to harm a child out of frustration, exhaustion or lack of resources when that child has autism. I object to the notion that certain children are less worthy of protection. A child’s most challenging times are cries for help. You do not answer that cry by taking their life.

And to my Sam I say: I signed up for this. You didn’t ask to be born. Like those vows I took in marriage, for better or worse in sickness and health, you are my child. We are bound together for life. It is my sacred oath, my privilege to keep you safe. You are my heart. 

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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. I am sad for those families that felt such despair. The media has an opportunity to suggest options, places to call or highlight the need for more support for some families. Instead they blame the kids.