Recently a mother who was known to the online autism community and kept a blog about parenting her autistic daughter was found in a fume-filled van with her. Both the mother, Kelli Stapleton, and her daughter Issy are alive, although Issy may have sustained permanent brain damage. The mother is facing an attempted murder charge and possible life imprisonment.
In every such case, there is an outpouring of support for the parent who killed or injured their child and the assumption that they must have done it because of the stress of parenting an autistic child and the lack of support. It is the only circumstance in which the killing of a child by an adult elicits any sympathy for the perpetrator. One very suspicious aspect of this incident that should be emphasised in all this is the timing: the day her mother tried to kill her, she recorded that Issy had returned home from a residential treatment programme of some kind, where she’d been for about six months.
Also the same day, Kelli (the mother) posted the “power player” article, about how her school’s special needs teacher refused to cooperate with her support plan:
All this must have happened in a very short space of time, so anyone who wants to portray Kelli Stapleton as a “stressed autism mom” needs to explain how she got stressed enough to try to kill her daughter in a matter of a day or so.
I should add that I’ve been in a special school where there were boys who were prone to violence at very trivial provocations, such as a refused demand or not liking someone’s tone of voice. There were a couple of incidents of people threatening others with knives while I was there, but no killings in the whole history of the place, and some of us were in considerably more vulnerable positions than these parents. And if I had done any such thing, I would have been sent to a secure home or young offenders’ institution. We should not be so quick to jump to a sympathetic position when the killer or attacker is a parent.
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