Raising a child with special needs, such as autism, can be challenging, as most of us know. But never would I imagine what happened recently. As I read the recent article about a mother that attempted to kill herself and her daughter with special needs, all I could do was feel sad. Sad for this child, sad for her husband, and, believe it or not, sad for this mother.
How can I feel sad for a mother who tried to kill her own child? It’s because I’m a therapist, because I have empathy, and because I might see things differently than most. This is not just a story about a sociopathic mom who tried to murder her child. As People Magazine describes, this is a family “consumed by the challenges of raising a violent child with autism”.
This is the story of a mother who endured unbearable physical abuse at the hands of her own child. This is the story of a mother who had a family to protect. This is the story of a mother who did everything she could for her child and her family, but still IT WAS NOT ENOUGH. This is the story of a mother who needed more help than she could get, no matter how hard she tried. This is the story of a family destroyed.
I’m not sure that most people understand how physically and emotionally exhausting her task must have been. And to live with the stress and fear, day in and day out, year after year, with no end in sight, could make anyone lose hope. Hope that it will ever get better, that things will ever change, that the abuse will ever stop. As a matter of fact, she probably felt as if things were getting worse. This was a mother in despair. She didn’t know what to do. In her mind, there were no other choices. She was desperate to find a way out of the horror she was living every moment.
Don’t get me wrong…I certainly don’t condone violence, murder or suicide for ANY reason. But I choose to believe that this mother was pushed over the edge that day. I believe that life seemed torturous, and she simply could not endure one more minute of it. I want to believe it was a moment of temporary insanity during which ending their lives seemed like the ONLY solution. And I do believe they both survived for a reason. I hope they find the help and healing they need and deserve, and that this family can bring attention to these issues so that this never has to happen again.