I recently read stories of mothers that killed their disabled children. The case we are discussing below had Down Syndrome and Autism like my son Billy Ray. I have continued to be outraged over the fact that parents feel there is no other answer. I will never condone the action but do have some understanding how they could become that desperate.
This morning I received a link to an article from the BBC about the mother's sentence. She received two years suspended sentence. The link to the story is http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/4399832.stm. That link provides more detail on the sentence. There is a related link on that site to http://society.guardian.co.uk/socialcare/story/0,7890,1606961,00.html which describes the behavior the young man, Patrick, displayed the day his mother sedated him then suffocated him with a plastic bag.
As the mother of a nearly 23 year old for whom we have had difficulty finding services because of his complexities, I can identify with the mother's plight. As I have talked herein already sleep deprivation can have a major impact on the child or adult and his parents. I can imagine her frusration because I have been there with Billy Ray except that he doesn't harm himself he beats on me and sometimes his caregivers.
In July of this year he was literally pulling out handfuls of my hair and throwing harder punches than he ever has before. As I shared in an earlier post Communication by Behavior, Billy Ray had a leaking appendice, gastritis and an enlarged pancreas. I took him to the emergency room that night and the doctor, who didn't know Billy Ray or me, there he found no reason medical reason for his behavior or complaints. He was going to prescribe psych meds and send him home. I advocated for continuing testing and the catscan revealed the above situation. I can't help but wonder if Patrick was trying to communicate something to his Mom or others by his behavior.
In the Guardian piece (second link) the dcctor related that he had never seen anything like Patrick's behavior and didn't know how the mother endured it. My outrage extends to that doctor as well. Why didn't he prescribe some additional medication and keep Patrick in the hospital until they could help him and his mother?
Instead of feeling sorry for the desperate plight of the parents and failing to hold them accountable for their actions, it is time for society to look at themselves. There should be outrage not only at the mother but at the lack of help available to her.
In all fairness, I have to mention that the Guardian story does say that this mother was a "very independent mother" who didn't accept all the services offered to her. There is not enough detail to be clear on that. However, I know the difficulty in getting appropriate services for our complex children. It is sometimes the path of least resistence to pull ourselves and our children into isolation rather than fight any more. I have been there for a time.
It is time for us to become involved in advocating the right way. Our outrage needs to be channeled in appropriate ways or nothing will be accomplished. Nevertheless, we can no longer just ignore this dilemna.