Friday, July 23, 2010

Murder Should Not Be Used For Propaganda

Earlier this week a mother in Texas killed her five year old son and two year old daughter by strangling them with wire.  After they stopped breathing, she called 911 and confessed to the crime.  This event is a tragedy and I would offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victims.

On the 911 call, the mother said that she killed her children because having children with autism was too much for her to handle, she wanted "normal" children.  There are reports that the mother had depression as well as other mental health issues.

I know first hand that having multiple children with autism can be hard, even on the good days, and that when you have something like depression on top of that you get a bad situation.  But I think it goes without saying that there is no reason or excuse for what happened.

Autism is never a justification to murder your children.

I don't think that anyone, regardless of their beliefs about autism, would want something like this to happen.  And yet, there are those who seem unable to resist using this horrific event to further their autism agenda.

As was pointed out on Autism's Gadly, an individual by the name Sarah Pripas wrote about she thinks that events happened because of the negative talk about autism.  The post is short and to the point, but here are some highlights -
This is where hatred leads. A woman in Texas is believed to have strangled her two autistic children.  ...
 ... the underlying feeling of entitlement to a "normal" child, and the feelings of victimization upon having an autistic child, is a staple of autism rhetoric. This kind of rhetoric really is dangerous.
This is the reason why hateful representations from well-meaning people and organizations need to be firmly opposed.
Go read the rest of the post if you want to get your blood boiling.  I don't have any clue what the heck this person is thinking in writing what she did, but I have a few thoughts of my own that I feel the need to share with her.

First, foremost, and most importantly - we are talking about two children being murdered by their mother.  You DO NOT use the murder of children to make an ideological point nor do you sit around and basically say "I told you so".  You just do not do that.  Period.

Second, these murders had nothing to do with autism.  You might think it is about autism, but there are many parents whose children have autism and who don't think happy thoughts about autism.  But strangely, we don't go around murdering people because of it.  The problem here was not autism but rather what was going on inside the mother's head.  She decided that she did not like her life or her life with her children and took action to end it.  Go look up the narcissism if you hare having trouble with the concept.

Third, having one or more children with autism can be very stressful.  If you don't think that is the case then you are simply deluding yourself.  What do you think would happen to that stress if parents were forbidden by the laws of political correctness from talking about what their lives are like because of autism?  What do you think would happen if parents not only had to deal with autism but were forced by society to put a happy face on what can be a difficult situation and bottle up the stress and tension?  How well do you think that is going to work?  Autism can suck royally for both the parents and child and no amount of positive thinking or ignoring reality is going to change that.

Lastly, if you really think that those of us who have "hateful" (aka realistic) views of autism in any way shape or form provided a justification for murder or caused these two children to be murdered, then you can go to hell and take your idiocy with you.

The autism world doesn't need people who use the murder of children to prove a point.


  1. And so we should forget the murders then?

    You are so out of it, you are not even not one of us, you are maybe one of Pinkers Robots.

    Have you no ethics or morals not to ask whilst staring in the mirror, just who is making capital out of this now, well YOU ARE!

  2. You will have to explain exactly where you think I said we should forget about the murders, because I have no idea what you are talking about.

  3. MJ: Playing the murder card is nothing new for ASAN and club ND. They've been doing it for years. In fact anytime an autistic child is murdered it is we, those of us who want a cure for autism who are to be blamed. Autism speaks is somehow to blame for these murders. If people would just accept autism as a natural genetic variation and forget about it being bad or any sort of defect. All these kids would still be alive, yeah right? ASAN, the hub, and the rest of neurodiversity have no scruples whatsoever.

    Author: No one is forgettting about the murder of children, regardless of whether they have autism or are typical children. However, it is your side who usually just takes a cavalier attitude about autistic children who die in drownings, traffic accidents, etc. with your "autism is harmless" rhetoric put out by Gernsbacher, Dawson and Mottron and company.

  4. Jonathan

    NT children drown are killed in road accidents, are killed as collateral damage in military operations.

    Every childs death matters everyone should be prevented. Below a certain age every child is in danger, nothing to do with autism, I repeat nothing to do with autism and as soon as people stop exceptionalising autism above everything else in stupid petty personal name calling games the better!!!!

    Look the demonisation of autism, isn't that special it's just part of the whole demonisation of difference and disability.

    When you think autism is the worst thing in the world then you are just out of the picture, totally morally abhorrent because you have set yourself above anybody else who has any difficulty or disability.

    You all make me sick to the bottom of my stomach.

  5. Children, whether typical or not, do die each and every day in preventable ways (although hopefully not in military options in the US). However, the problem with autism in children is that it makes them unaware of dangers that typical children could be taught to watch out for.

    For example, my older daughters have no concept of the idea that water can be dangerous or that you can't walk out in front of a car. Other children their age already understand these concepts. Autism prevents us from being able to communicate these concepts to them - they simply do not have the language skills to understand.

    My daughters have also shown that they will walk right out of the house by themselves without the slightest hesitation. As a result we have extra deadbolts on the doors to the outside (mounted at the top), and alarms set to go off if the doors are opened. If they wandered off on their own, they would be unable to tell someone where they lived or even what their names are.

    These are not a typical problems for other children their age. My experiences are not unusual.

    So the dangers of childhood are very much magnified for children with autism - especially the mid to lower functioning ones. The reason that there aren't more deaths in children is that parents know to be extra vigilant and take extra precautions.

    As for "demonisation of autism", I don't think that anyone where demonizes people with disabilities. I know I certainly don't. I will however say bad things about the condition known as autism. In my eyes, autism has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

    But that is not the same as saying that people with autism are bad. People are people and are worthy of respect no matter who they are or what they suffer from. People are not disorders.

    If that makes you sick to the bottom of your stomach, then have fun throwing up.

  6. Well disgust at this particular crime is something that both our respective blogging communities ought to agree upon. Not using this as an excuse for propaganda, is also something we should agree upon.

    But that is not what is happening, our two communities have so little regard for each other that we use any stick to beat a dog.

    From each side there is the accusation that it is not them, but the opposition who is exploiting this.

    Well it is a case where I draw no distinction at all, and it is a case once again of "a plague on both your houses"

    Jonathan you really ought to be ashamed, you imply that people who believe that diversity is something to be celebrated do not care if young autistic lives are lost through accidents. That is unreal that is ad hominem, you are just so full of hatred that you create these straw enemies you do not even know because you feel they somehow cast a shadow on your life.

    I am not blaming autism speaks for anything other than what I usually blame them for (and that is not without good reason)

    However autism speaks only exists because of a wider set of problems in society.

    No amount of vilifying me or those of my persuasion is going to change anything for you. It's like 1984 where an enemy is necessary to keep the population in obedience. How Orwellian this all is.

    Or maybe as in Cavafy's poem waiting for the Barbarians, what would you do if someone suddenly took away your barbarians.

    I know you are not listening and that my words are fruitless to you, so this debate really is one that ought to appeal to other witnesses, those who watch two mutually convinced groups lock horns through the comments fields in the blogosphere. Now that perhaps is democracy.

  7. "Jonathan you really ought to be ashamed, you imply that people who believe that diversity is something to be celebrated do not care if young autistic lives are lost through accidents. "

    Didn't you just get done saying that "below a certain age every child is in danger, nothing to do with autism"? That is exactly the cavalier attitude that I believe Jonathan was referring to. You deny that autism greatly increases the danger to children and attempt to minimize the risks by trying to imply that every child is at equal risk.

    Sadly, that simply isn't true. When it comes to common, everyday dangers that the "typical" child can be taught to navigate, many children with autism have the mythical survival instincts of a lemming.

    "However autism speaks only exists because of a wider set of problems in society."

    Hogwash. Society does not make my children unable to tolerate loud noises or bright lights nor does it does not make then obsess over objects nor does it make the my one daughter hit herself nor did it rob them of their ability to speak.

    Society did not give my children autism.

    "No amount of vilifying me or those of my persuasion is going to change anything for you."

    This is not a fictional story and no one is making you play the role of the villain. My only concern is helping my children overcome their autism and you and others of "your persuasion "are attempting to get in the way of that. If you really feel the need to have your own civil rights movement, then take it out of the world my children's disability.

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  9. My point is not that society gave anyone autism, but that societies attitude towards disability has been responsible for a very retrograde response to the underlying neurological condition that is autism or as David Amaral (no particular friend of mine) puts it:The Autisms.

    You continue to mischaracterise where I stand in relation to autism, and forget that the National Autistic Society was the first organisation to actually do somehting for autistic children and there parents. It manages that however without the negative hysteria that characterises autism speaks.

    You draw a false picture of those who you gather together in your blinkered world under the skull and crossbones flag of neurodiversity.

    Well it simply ain't so that we stand in your way. We stand in the way of the kind of the pseudo scientific biomedical abuse of children that pretends to be helping them for sure, but that is entirely different from letting everything be.

    We are not as you paint us like religious fanatics who would leave a child with a broken leg saying it is God's will,that is a picture you create in your own mind. It is just that we take a more realistic picture and do what we can not hope for fantasy cures in a world of bizarre science fiction.

    I will say no more to you, you are beyond reason.

  10. Let me see if I understand what you are saying. Autism Speaks uses "negative hysteria" which leads to parents wanting to murder their children who have autism? And I mischaracterising your opinion in any way?

    The ND movement stands in the way of almost every treatment for autism out there. That includes ones, such as ABA, that have a great deal of evidence behind them. They actively push the idea that acceptance and accommodations are enough to help children live with autism even though that is clearly not the case.

    ABA taught my children how to talk but no amount of acceptance would have done the same.

    As for the rest of the "pseudo scientific biomedical abuse" claim, take a look around at the other things I have written here and you tell me if I go in for pseudo science.

    "We are not as you paint us like religious fanatics who would leave a child with a broken leg saying it is God's will,that is a picture you create in your own mind. "

    No, you paint yourself that way when you refuse to treat a child's autism and pretend that it is something that can't be helped, calling it a "more realistic picture". Autism is treatable and yet your movement would leave them untreated and unhelped.

  11. You are still at it proceeding from a total lack of knowlege of what I believe.

    I believe in what you might call evidence based interventions.

    I believe in appropriate forms of education. You call it treatment, but then that is the distorted medicalised perspective you live in.

    We do not call what society intervenes with to bring up the non autistic child "treatment" we call it education, we call it parenting.

    The difference is you have a set of goggles on and I do not.

    Now go take your modafinil and blow your mind.

  12. Hello, just wanted to add a comment that it seems unfair to me to imply that the reason this mother murdered her children is "narcissism". You stated that she had been suffering from depression. This can be so severe that sometimes other mothers have murdered their children when they don't have a disability. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is another kettle of fish entirely. Maybe you read something I didn't, which said she had NPD. NPD people can indeed be dangerous - it is very similar to psychopathy. But please don't assume that a depressed mother who can't cope to the extent that she murders her own kids is merely "narcissistic".

    I suffer from severe mental health problems myself - diagnosed as a form of schizophrenia (schizoaffective disorder), but that is debatable. In case you didn't know, calling someone "schizoaffective" basically means they get major symptoms of both bipolar and schizophrenia. There were times when my daughter was small that I really came to understand how some people can get so desperate that they do things like this. A lot of people will also kill themselves at the same time. The point I want to make is that when someone is very severely depressed they may be so severely unable to parent that they genuinely feel that the child would be better off dead. Personally when I felt that way it was after having exhausted every possible means to get help. Luckily my ex phoned me to see if I was OK and when I said how I felt he came straight over and looked after us for a few weeks. Of course when the psych team eventually bothered to turn up, his involvement was used against me (obviously I dumped him for a reason etc), but I wasn't having any of it. I did get an apology from the team - I had actually phoned the emergency team that would have had me admitted but they never called back. It would take too long to explain everything ...

    I suppose what I described above was one of my worst days, but tbh I was so ill with depression for years that I felt terribly guilty about having my daughter in the first place. Knowing how hard it was for me to get psychiatric help in the first place, I really wouldn't dismiss the idea that this woman really was completely desperate. I was left until eventually I ended up in the hospital with a severe psychosis. I tried everything I could think of to get help, and so did my friends.

    Probably the woman needed more support from whatever services there are where she lives. Both for her depression and her kids' autism.

    And yes I agree with the overall point of your article, that it is just stupid to blame the murder on "negative views of autism".

    I may not have explained myself very well, I know infanticide is an emotive issue. However it is much more common than people believe. There ARE psychopathic mothers who kill their kids for kicks, but most of the time they are just very very ill and need help.