Friday, September 6, 2013

I could have been Issy Stapleton.

If you want to tell me I'm judgemental, go away. You aren't wanted here. I'm going to say harsh things about autism parents. You have a choice to go away, or to actually think about them. Being an asshat or sympathizing with abusers and murderers isn't an option.
I could have been Issy Stapleton. If I'd been 10, 15 years younger? Oh so easily could I have been Issy Stapleton. For a variety of factors had I been killed when I was 14 (so in 1997 or so) you'd never have heard my name. But had I been 14 in 2007? Oh yeah.

See, my mom got off on the attention that extremes got her. We were talented athletes-and she made sure everyone knew. She got off on having a child who placed at State and Nationals regularly in a very difficult sport. No, really. She'd drag me into her work with my little warmup suit and my trophies. It was embarrassing, because I knew the only reason she was doing it was to one up someone whose kid made the starting lineup or something.

But she also got off on saying profoundly negative things. Now, she didn't lie, exactly. But she fudged the truth. She would present stories so as to erase her role in them.

I keep seeing "Issy was violent" portrayed as an excuse. Thing is? My mom could have made the same case. I tossed her across the room more than once. I bit her more than a few times in my teens. Pulled her hair once or twice. Kicked. Knew better than to hit because my legs are stronger. But this was not  unprovoked. My mother's idea  of a good time was to provoke a meltdown, then get in my face, try to hold me down. It feels like suffocating, being in a prone restraint.

And I am stronger than my mom. I kicked her, pushed her off, to survive. She banged my head into the wall, so I pushed her off as hard as I could. She dislocated my shoulders, so I kicked her off. She had her hand and arm over my face, so I bit her. I was in fight or flight, and flight isn't an option when someone is trying to keep you there. Flight was my first choice. I was forced into fight, and to survive I had to win.

Are you still feeling sorry for my mom? Really? If you are your empathy is misplaced. And don't try to tell me for a second that she lost herself in the moment because she was overwhelmed. She never touched my face. Not once. Just parts of me that were covered with hair or clothing, or that could have been bruised other ways.

My mother was violent first. And I have no doubt that Kelli Stapleton also did things that made Issy feel trapped, where fight was the option because flight was made impossible.

While my mom had to call people or tell people in person that her life was hard and that her 90 pound daughter beat her up (neglecting the part where she started it. I have dents in my skull and a chronically subluxating shoulder from her), Kelli Stapleton had it so much easier. She could tape shit and youtube it, or type it up and post it to a blog for the whole world to see in minutes. She could reach more people in 10 minutes with her sob story than my mom could in 10 days.

If my mom had known she could get away with it? Be lionized for it even? She would have done the same thing. With thousands of people who she knew had her back? She would have been on it. Our garage would have been cleaned specifically for the purpose. She'd have found a way that I'd die and she'd survive (probably a method of poisoning. My 90 pounds to her 150 means that I'd be oh so slightly more susceptible, in theory) but yet get sympathy. If she knew hundreds of people would support her, that the media would support her, I have no doubt in my mind she would have gone for it.

There is no extreme like "I tried to kill my child and myself". That's even better than "My kid won a medal at the 2nd highest level at power tumbling nationals". It rolls off the tongue so much easier. People know what you are talking about. And for some reason, people just love parents who are supposedly driven to extremes.

My mother would have gleefully destroyed my privacy on a blog. When applauded for it, she would have gleefully kept pushing and pushing. And when she saw that the most attention and support goes to people who kill their children?

I would have been dead.

Issy Stapleton is one of us. I could have been her, oh so easily. Many of us could have.

Think about that before telling me not to judge. Not  only is judgement healthy, but I have every right to judge. I lived Issy's life, just before every parent had a blog. Those are the shoes I've walked in.


Bard said...

its simple, good parents don't kill their children. There mis no wiggle room.

Brenda Rothman (Mama Be Good) said...

<3 You deserved better. You deserve better now.

Jen said...

What really bugged me about her initially was the video she posted of her kid having a meltdown and attacking her. It was so clear she had a giant role in provoking that meltdown, and keeping it going. Others jumped on her bandwagon after treat, but it made me feel ick. I will never defend any parent who does this, and this week especially I've felt alone in that view, as a parent of 2 autistic kids. I don't get how anyone can feel compassion for Issy's mother. I don't care if you tweeted her or read her blog. That doesn't diminish what she did.

Jen said...

That should read *after that*.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this. I don't have Autism but I have a child who does and a child with Ds. I would quite simply never ever kill them. When I realized I was hugely responsible for many of my child's meltdowns you know what I did? I didn't beat her, kill her, or yell at her. I changed what I was doing. It's that simple. My child does not need to be fixed, or changed to fit my or the world's expectations of what's acceptable. She gets to live her life as she is: a human worthy of dignity.

Jen said...

Parents need to stop feeling sorry for themselves, that is #1. I went through a period of that, admittedly, and never again. It was wrong. It causes us to justify treating our children badly. That we are the victims of their neurology. No. If parents got off the woe is me bandwagon, this stuff wouldn't happen.

Moving On said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've bitten my tongue so many times when around other parents of autistic children who live in a state of self-pity because their kids are so screwed up. I always want to say "YOU screwed them up- autism is not to blame."

Being autistic with two autistic kids, and having no "services" to speak of, I could see how easily my kids would have become violent on a regular basis in the face of inept parenting- because I had an inept mother, and I was violent. As you say, it was always provoked. ALWAYS.

Anyone who thinks that being an inept parent gives an excuse to murder your kid should be locked up before they hurt someone.

Anonymous said...

My sister has Aspbergers, and I love and respect her. :)

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly disagree with you about judgment being healthy. In fact, I have found the opposite to be true. Why are you assuming that these people are the same as you and your mother? I am in no way trying to defend the mother - I know nowhere near enough about the situation to do so. But, I strongly suspect, neither do you...
Whom exactly is your attitude helping? How will simply vilifying the mother help avert similar situations in the future?
Furthermore, are you claiming that, in all cases of violent autistic children, it is the parents' / caregivers' fault? If so, what are they doing wrong?

CC said...

"are you claiming that, in all cases of violent autistic children, it is the parents' / caregivers' fault? If so, what are they doing wrong?"

In many - not all - cases where an autistic becomes violent, it is in response to external stimuli. Something a person or thing is doing that is intolerable to them. People like you see it in a neurotypical context - they must be a brat, or they must be evil. No. They are overstimulated, and especially if you are nonverbal, you can't just say "the fluorescent lights are hurting my eyes" or "please don't touch me, it feels like you are punching me". In many if not most cases, the caregiver must figure out what behavior is wrong, and change it. The violence will disappear.

Anonymous said...

for having been in the hand of an abuser myself and also having met people who delight in drama and extremes instead of calmly taking steps to make everyone feel better, i understand your perspective and i feel your pain from reading your experiences. i hope you have now only supportive and kind people in your life, you deserve it.
i was also appalled by the way the mother blogged and condemn her for the act she committed. i believe that she had lost touch with reality and had become more of a trigger than support to Isabelle. Yes, this is abuse, but it might have been driven by her own incapability to cope, her own mental state. Local authorities will have to find out, we don't know. this incident and the multitude of reactions - some incredibly one-sided and supportive for only the mother - has shown again how different we all are. i can only talk from the perspective as a parent (and partly, from being a victim of violence in the past) but so much went wrong in this family, and instead of politics, real assistance is needed, for them, but also for other children in similar situations where the caregivers are maybe not playing the supportive part they make others believe. I hope Isabelle will survive this. i hope people stop attacking each others for positions taken in this and start truly communicating, listen to autistic adults and take the time to check if their own perspective of things is still sane and the way we handle those who are vulnerable is not driven by own mental health issues.

Neurodivergent K said...

a) our most basic instinct is survival, and survival of the herd. Ergo, judgement, particularly harsh judgement of those who kill their offspring, is evolutionarily advantageous. People who decided to walk in the apex predators' shoes got to be part of their stomach.

b) It doesn't matter what the "but" is. My mother was mentally ill. That doesn't mitigate the fact that it was abuse (and rendered us ALL mentally ill, cuz PTSD is like that)

c) I never want to hear "but seerrrrrrrrrrrrrrvices" again in this context. NOT the time for that conversation. A lack of services doesn't kill people. Being in the room with a murderer does.

Heldenautie said...

"Furthermore, are you claiming that, in all cases of violent autistic children, it is the parents' / caregivers' fault? If so, what are they doing wrong?"

Really? Are you going there. I think this has been covered about 8.7 billion times (slight exaggeration) by every Autistic Blogger in the known universe. Well, since you insist and standing in the fog of our inability to google, I suppose I will explain this SIMPLE BLOODY CONCEPT to you for the fiftieth time. You seem to have trouble grasping this, so I'm going to explain it like you're fucking two.

Okay, so when people are excessively frustrated, they might feel the need to express that need. That need gets exacerbated when the person to whom the need is expressed doesn't pay attention or respond. Sometimes, that frustration can reach violent proportions because the need has become so dire. Now, when people have communication disabilities, it's very common for their needs to get ignored. Moreover, they often get put in situations that are distressing to them. This makes the needs not being honored even more dire, thus exacerbating the violent impulse. So one way that parents can curb their violent autistic children's violent impulses is to give the child a way to communicate their needs and to make sure that they actually satisfy those needs. Did you understand that?

Bewildered Bystander said...

Swap out gymnastics, and I could have written this myself. Almost to every last detail.

I'm sure my friends think I'm taking the autism murders/attempted murders too personally, but yeah... had I been born 15 years later than I was, I would also be dead. I'm sure of it.

I disowned my mother years ago, but she's never really wanted anything to do with me. You know, because I *chose* to be different, just to make her life difficult.

While she's never said a positive word about me TO me, she still brags about stuff I've done, years later, to her friends. I hear about it through the grapevine.... yet, somehow I'm the one who's "weird"?

Moving On said...

For those sympathising with the scum that tried to murder Issy, do you realise that there are videos of Issy and her egg donor (because I cannot call her a "mother") online, showing Issy's meltdowns and how this scum caused them or exacerbated them?

If any services are needed to prevent this kind of bulllshit, it's courses aimed at teaching NT parents to understand how to non-abusively parent an Autistic child, preferably courses taught by Autistics or by NTs trained by Autistics.

But lack of services is never, never, never an excuse to murder, or try to murder, anyone.

For the record, I have been suicidal (due to mental illnesses caused by PTSD) and never, for one millisecond, have I considered killing one of my Autistic kids as well as myself.