"When police officers finished binding her son Colin's hands and feet, they turned to Teresa Abernethy and asked what she wanted them to do with him. .... Teresa knew the answer but was surprised to hear herself say it: Take my son."
Parents with severely autistic children, usually sons, with self injurious behavior and aggressive responses toward those who care for them should read the Arizona Republic article Phoenix family makes painful choice due to son's autism by John Faherty. It portrays honestly the heart wrenching realities faced by the Abernethy family which could no longer endure the violence and disruption visited upon their family by the severely autistic son they loved.
"As he grew older, Colin's outbursts were becoming more common and more violent. And they were usually directed at his mother. "He was such an imposing figure," Teresa, 42, said. When Colin was at school, there was respite for Teresa, but it was temporary. "The bus delivered him to the front door every day. He would come home, and I would be petrified."Some days he would run into the home, drop his book bag and start hitting her.
"Living with Colin was like living with an abusive spouse," Teresa said. "You never knew what was going to set him off." Colin's doctor, Dr. Kevin Berger, told her it was common for someone like Colin to lash out at the person he is most comfortable with. Teresa wore long-sleeved shirts to hide her bruises and bite marks, but she knew Colin's behavior was beginning to damage her entire family, something she and her husband had vowed would never happen."
The Arizona Republic and reporter John Faherty deserve high marks for breaking through the usual mainstream media obsessions with a few exceptional and high functioning autistic persons and portraying honestly the heart wrenching realities that severe autism can impose on a family and their loved one who suffers from it. The Abernethy family deserve applause for their courage in talking honestly about the son and brother they love so dearly. To the Arizona Republic and to the Abernethy family this father of a severely autistic, soon to be 15 years old, son says thank you.