November 11, 2015

Day 10: In Case of Emergency

There's been another case of murder suicide in the autism community. A single mother killed her 14 year old son and then herself.

This is not the first time this has happened and sadly it won't be the last. Events like this split apart the autism community, with cries of "parents need help" battling the idea that any hint of understanding is no less than condoning murder. I'm not going to take up that argument here. I've written about it before and that's not what is on my mind today.

Right now, I'm thinking about a friend. Her son is in the middle of a psychotic episode. He's been checked into the hospital, after having to be restrained by several adults in the emergency room to keep him from hurting himself and others. He's refusing medication. He's 9 years old.

The scariest part is that he's likely to be sent home. The doctors will manage to sedate him, keeping him good and medicated for a few days, and they'll send him home. Where he is so loved, but also feared. Where he doesn't have an appropriate school placement because if doctors don't know how to handle this, how could teachers possibly know? And that's at the good school. Where his psychiatrist will once again tinker with his meds and hope to find something that will keep him stable for a while. And where his parents will white-knuckle it until the next time, hoping they can keep him - and their two other children - safe.

And then what? I have another friend whose elderly parents are still caring for her adult schizophrenic brother. He's been in the emergency room so many times from overdosing and the only hope for relief was for him to die. But he hasn't died. And when her parents do, he's likely to end up homeless. They love him so much they're completely broke from his lifetime of treatments. And even though by all accounts they cannot physically care for him, they do it anyway. Because what choice do they have?

Moe is different, of course. Autism is different. But I do understand that there's no lonelier feeling than being in a room alone or with a partner, helping your child through a meltdown the best you know how, and thinking this is it. This is life now, with no one to help and no way out. You might as well be lost in the desert, your throat dry, every oasis a mirage.

1 comment:

  1. My heart breaks for the autistic people murdered by their caregivers/parents. There are many factors that come into events such as these that there is no cut-and-dried solution, but I came to these conclusions:

    -There is a lack of support for caregivers. It is a very strenuous job, sometimes with little reward.
    -This lack of support creates resentment against the care recipient, which the caregiver fails to address in a healthy way.
    -The resentment and stress build over time, which leads to low self-esteem, and eventually culminates into the incident.

    I still think that there is no way of justifying murder, but the underlying causes must be addressed.

    -Meltdowns, psychotic episodes, and overdosing are as bad for the person experiencing it as the caregiver, if not worse. They have the same "powder keg" action as the aforementioned events.

    -The spark that sets off the powder keg is not the powder keg itself. People in caregiving positions tend to store their frustration as "powder" in a "keg" and something particularly stressful, the "spark" can set it off.


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