Sunday, July 25, 2010

Texas Autism Filicide: A Mother of an Autistic Child Provides Perspective and Sound Advice

It is very difficult to read each and every news account of filicide, the killing of a child by his or her parents.  Sometimes the killings flow from bitter, nasty domestic relationships.  In some, perhaps most, the parents involved had mental health issues.  Each instance has to be examined on its own set of facts and, given the nature of the act,  by the appropriate legal and mental health authorities.  We should all be extremely careful not to make sweeping generalizations based on the personal characteristics of the individuals involved in a particular case. 

This week there are news reports of a Pakistani-American woman in Texas who strangled her two autistic children and , as reported by the Dallas Morning News, informed 911 operators that she did so because they had autism and she wanted normal children.  In the internet world of autism discussions such a  tragic event  feeds into many issues, and much hostility,  on all sides of the various autism perspectives.  There is also a danger that the tragedy could feed into feelings of hostility held by some people towards people of Muslim faith since September 11 2001 although most news reports I have read of it, including the DMN article just  referenced, do not mention the mother's religion.

I found it very  helpful  to read the wise comments on this tragedy by  the Muslim mother of an autistic child on the blog site My Autistic Muslim Child in a post called Support and Responsibilities in which the author references the accused mother's Muslim religion and asks people not to characterize Islam  based on one person's actions, urges us to consider the mental health challenges of the mother who killed her children, without making excuses for her actions,  and points out the need for autism support systems,

I recommend this article by the author of My Autistic Muslim Child for its balance, sensitivity and wisdom and because it is written by some one who is also both a Muslim and the mother of an autistic child.   It is difficult to quote from this article without quoting the entire article so I ask you to read it  for yourself.  I will quote the two concluding paragraphs where the author talks about the need to get at the root of the problem:

"We have a serious problem in our society, and people of all religions and ideologies must work together to stop the violence against children with autism or other disabilities. We need to educate our communities about this issue, and make them understand that such crimes cannot be justified by any religious teachings.

Also, we must create a support system for our communities, so if they do not receive any support from their families (which is the case a lot of times too for different reasons), then they have an outlet to which to go and acquire the much needed help from others. Our religious facilities must have an adequate and functional social service program to help the needy. The finger-pointing must stop, and we need to admit this problem is OUR problem, not just isolated, random incidents. Once we reach this understanding, we have a good chance to work together as a society and get to the root of the problem so as to prevent a tragedy like this to happen again."


Claire said...

Excellent, Harold. All true.

Oliver M Canby said...

Harold, were you in Chicago the other day?

Unknown said...

Hi Oliver, no I have never been to Chicago in my life.

Anonymous said...

The mom who wrote the blog about being a Muslim and a parent of a child with autism is right on.
The murder of two children with autism is a horrible tragedy that really has nothing to do with religion. People of every faith have engaged in such unexplainable behavior, except that in some cases the explanation, though difficult to accept is a total collapse and despair of spirit, no help, no support. I don't know the mom who killed her kid's real story. I only hope there's less of them.
Jennie "Isaac's mom, autistic, aged 23)