Thursday, September 5, 2013

To Issy Stapleton, with love.

Dear Issy,

I wish with all my heart that I wasn't writing to you in this circumstance. I wish I was writing to  you in a more joyful situation. I wish you had become known to me because you were exploring your Autistic identity and taking your rightful place in our community-a community that loves you for your very existence, a community that thinks you are whole and complete.

Unfortunately, that is nearly the complete opposite of the circumstances that are before us. You are in the hospital right now. Your mother tried to kill you. You know that, though. You know that you were doing the best you can with what you had and that it was never good enough.

I am writing to you because there are things you need to know, things that very few people are going to tell you, because they with their vaunted NT empathy can't manage to feel for you-only for your assailant.

Dearest Issy, it is not your fault. You did not make your mom do anything to you. It is her job, as a parent, to cope. Not to kill. It is not your fault that your mother chose to use you, yes use you, for pity and sympathy. It is not your fault she elected to try to kill you. That is not your fault at all. You deserved oh so much better. It is not  your fault that she demanded what you couldn't do. It is not your fault that she refused to acknowledge that you have weaknesses to go with your strengths. It is not your fault that you can't do the impossible. It was not fair or right or acceptable, even, to have that demanded of you.

Issy, I know that the media and your mom's friends are being absolutely awful and terrible about you. That isn't right. That isn't fair. It's revolting, it is bullying, it is trying to excuse the inexcusable. There is a whole community that has your back. We are outraged, indignant, on your side. Unquestioningly on your side. There is a large Autistic community and we care about you. We are standing for you, right now, and always. There are non autistic allies who are speaking for you too. We cannot undo what was done to you, as much as we'd love to, but we can declare that it was not ok.

We have logged many, many miles in your shoes. We know what that journey is. We won't let anyone forget.

I want to be able to tell you that everything will be ok. I cannot make that promise, and I respect you too much to lie to you. I can promise that we will do everything we can to make it ok. I can promise that we will not let you go undefended. This isn't enough, I know. We cannot fix it. But we are here for you. There is no justification for harming you, ever ever ever. I'm so sorry that the only promises I can make are really not enough. I am so sorry that you live in a world that tries to justify hurting you. Sorry and angry. Not angry at you. Angry at everything, ever, that tells us that you are less than. You are not less than anyone.

Dearest Issy, I have your back. We have your back. We love you just as you are. We know how love works. And doesn't work. Love doesn't work by suffocation. Love works by accepting and embracing a person as they are. We are going to do our best by you. You deserve it, and you have been failed by the very people whose job it is to do their best. We will not let that stand.

We may not be able to make everything be ok, but we are sure going to try.

With deep wells of love,



Brenda Rothman (Mama Be Good) said...

<3 to you, K.

Jen said...

Yes, a thousand times yes. I have been faced with so many parents defending Issy's mother today. They maybe spoke to her over social media, so somehow, it's impossible to think she's the bad guy. Are you kidding me? I don't care how depressed she was. I don't care how hard she thought her life was. i don't care how much SHE felt failed by the system. It's not about HER. She tried to kill her child, and that is inexcusable. I feel like I am alone in condemning this woman, among other parents. It's about Issy. Only Issy.

Anonymous said...

i think there are indeed many people, autism parents or not, that are incredibly disturbed by this latest event that is only one of what seems increasingly more infanticides related to autism. i have not read too many 'reactions' (many were just stunned, like me, under shock) but what strikes me in this case was how many 'knew the mother' from her very public online battle, and i have read the first 'she really loved her daughter' snippets here and there. i have no understanding for what happens. i have already no understanding for the way the mother chose to fight for support for her child. we DON'T know people on the internet. but many of us have had thoughts of suicide. much less people have considered killing someone (i have, i got over it then). killing a CHILD though, your OWN child? that is completely inconceivable for a normal parent. this is not the middle ages. there are always other options. it is a deranged act. murder.

Unknown said...

Thanks for saying everything that I'd want to say.

Jen Mac said...

You cannot judge until you have walked in someone’s shoes or fought their battles. You only see what you want to see and that is a deranged mother trying to kill her daughter. When in fact she was a passionate woman trying to rescue her daughter from mindless and shallow people like you. This woman tried to move the world to a better understanding of her daughter who has an incredibly aggressive behavior. I am not saying that I agree with Kelli's decision but you have not lived her life nor even attempted her fight against an entire state full of people denying her the help she and ISSY need.
She had doors repeatedly slammed shut in her face and she got back up and continued to fight with a vengeance FOR HER DAUGHTER. She took it upon herself and built a community of people all fighting for Issy and rallied the money to get her the treatment the insurance company denied her (another shallow move from a bunch of mindless people).This just shows what a strong passionate woman is capable of. Until you have fought this worldly battle yourselves, or lived her life or cried her tears then I suggest you take a back seat and STFU!!!!

Neurodivergent K said...


I could have been Issy Stapleton. I very very easily could have been Issy Stapleton. My mother, like Kelli, like a whole slew of "autism moms", got off on displaying her piteous state for the world.

What she left out of her sob story was that she was consistently in my face. What she left out of her sob story was that she bashed my head into the wall, dislocated my shoulders, I had to fight back or die.

I have NO doubt in my mind that Kelli is not telling the whole story either. And frankly, her shoes are soft cuddly slippers compared to Issy's shoes.

Get off your high horse. Walk in MY shoes. Walk in Issy's shoes. This is a blog from a person who, like Issy, fights daily so that people give a shit when Autistic people are murdered.

And you are defending that bullshit ON MY BLOG. ANd trying to call me small minded. No. No. No. You are selfish and you, too, are a monster. Only monsters can justify murdering hteir child.

I am very comfortable making that judgement. I am also very comfortable telling you to fuck off and not fuck back on again, because you are lionizing a murderer wannabe and trying to make the victim into the victimizer.

Fuck that noise. Issy deserved better. Way, way, better.

Anonymous said...

JenRmac-- when I first read your comment, I thought how could this woman come on K's blog and post such a despicable thing in response to what K wrote. Then I realized, wait, this woman--Jenrmac--also thinks killing one's child is actually an acceptable means to an end. That the mommy monster deserves sympathy.
You're victim blaming. A child. That's repugnant. And I've read bits and pieces of that blog and I can tell you just from the little bit I read that this woman had no respect for her daughter--the way she publicized details which should never ever be published. Given the fact that she tried to murder her child, her credibility as a decent human being is--well zilch and I won't be a bit surprised to find out that there is more to this story than we know.
So why don't you take your crappy ass comments back to your little tribe of mothers that think it is justifiable to murder children if the going gets tough. You don't need to go out of your way to prove what sucky human beings you and the rest of kelli's unconditional supporters are. We already know!

Unknown said...

I can't believe that there is actually a serious conversation among adults about whether or not there is the slightest hint of justification for the attempted murder of your kid. No matter how frustrated, no matter how much you loved her before trying to murder her, no matter what the insurance company did or didnt do... No. Murder isn't okay.

Anonymous said...

Please survive, Issy, please get better. Not another one. It's not fair.

Anonymous said... are on the wrong blog, telling the wrong person that she doesn't know what it means to fight the world for the help we need.

bananarama said...

I ask that everyone who is unable to see Kelli as anything but a murderer remember that she also tried to kill herself. I'm not autistic, but I do have a mental illness. I have been suicidal, and I fought for 20 years to get the help I needed. I nearly destroyed my family -- not because I wanted to, but because I couldn't control my behavior. When I think of the years they spent fearing my behavior, my heart breaks.

I'm not defending murder or attempted murder. But I am trying to tell you what it feels like to be suicidal. I would have died in 2001 had I not been rescued by someone I didn't think would find me. I was so out of my mind with depression I wasn't thinking clearly at all. What I'm trying to say is that it wasn't me inside my head -- it was a horrible, dark thing that made me feel like I was watching someone else make the attempt.

Please try to see this side of it too. Please try to have some compassion for the suicidal. That doesn't mean you have to excuse what she did -- it just means that Kelli, like Issy, was unable to ask for what she needed in a way that anyone could understand.

obscurefox said...

Banarama, most suicidal people don't feel like taking someone with them, Even people with hard to care for familys who can't get services. I asked someone I know who had this experiance ( suicidaly depressed took years to get proper services, still on some waiting lists), so no, no sympathy, people who kill or try and kill their kids deserve no sympathy, they are bad people. People who commit murder suicide seem to suffer from a certain sort of vanity.

Unknown Agent X said...
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Winifred S. said...

Thank you so much for this post, it is so important to keep Issy in our hearts, and all children whose lives have been threatened by their caregivers. I think her father's update on Issy's progress (I've seen reposted if you don't want to look at the Facebook page) does an excellent job on focusing on Issy and her health rather than mother. I'll be thinking about her all day, and how little I can ever know about her (since almost everything out there is from the blog of the woman who tried to kill her).

I firmly believe that compassion and empathy are not limited quantities, nor does everyone express them in ways that are understandable. We can have compassion for a depressed mother who tries to kill herself while still thinking she should go to jail (forever?) for trying to kill her child. Trying to murder your child is an despicable act impossible to understand, and something that takes outsiders and insiders a long time to process. (I want to live in a just world, I know it is a fallacy, but I have the habit of trying to understand and emphasize with others.) So, I have compassion for the people who choose to focus on the mother, but would remind them not to look away from Issy. Step back for a moment and reevaluate your reactions, immediately. Think about the child.

(As a side comment to Jessica "Wolverine" Metaneira: autistic people do hurt and kill their NT caregivers, and people do frame it in terms of the autistic person being a victim. I'm sure you are familiar with the case of Getrude Steuernagel and Sky Walker. The difference is that it is extremely rare: parents/caregivers are almost always the ones that hurt children and not vice versa. It doesn't matter what the exceptions show, but rather the continued threat to autistic and other disabled children/adults.)

Unknown Agent X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda Rothman (Mama Be Good) said...

JenRMac - Actually, many of us who are friends with K are also parents of autistic children. And yes, our children also hit, flail, bite, yell, all the very same actions. So, yes, I *have* walked in her shoes. And I *choose* not to hurt my child. I *choose* not to harm one hair on his head. He is not better off dead, no matter what the situation is. My child's life is precious,precious and filled with opportunity for happiness and success and love. I wake up grateful for him and I know even when things are difficult, he is so, so worth it.

The Autie Gamer said...

It makes me sick to my stomach every time I read or hear about the murder/attempted murder of an individual. Especially when the victim is revealed to be a fellow Autistic who was only being themselves. Murder is wrong, so, so wrong. My thoughts go out to Issy. Issy, you can pull through this! Please don't die on us!

As for the mother, I don't believe for a single second that you were "out of options". What you did was unexfuckingscuseable. The courts need to send your ass to the Gray Bar Hotel.

Unknown said...

For all of you who think I am in agreement that kelli made the right decision to take hers and Issy's life you are MISTAKEN.
I am NOT saying that murder is OK! BECUZ ITS NOT!!!!!!!!!
What I am saying is that you ALL are wasting too much energy bashing her and the situation. Maybe use your brains for what they are best suited for PROBLEM SOLVING!!! Do you have suggestions or support? Probably not! Because this blog seems to be just the type to spend more time gossiping and partaking in the view from your high horses and perfect lives.

Echolalia said...

Disclosure: I've been living with a mood disorder for most of my adult life. I was diagnosed with a "learning disability" at age 11 back in 1979. I know a little something about feeling like I don't deserve to exist because there's something "wrong" with me. I am also the mother of a kid on the spectrum.

Let's keep in mind that many of the people who are saying that it's understandable that the mother of "one of those children" would snap and try to kill her daughter are probably the same people who were saying that they don't want their kids to have to go to the same schools as kids on the spectrum, who say that Special Education programs are a waste of money that would be better spent on "normal" children, that "those kids" are monsters who should have never been born, who wonder out loud what that mother did wrong to end up with "a kid like that", etc.,. These are the people who make excuses for teachers who bind children's feet with duct tape to keep them from taking their shoes off, who put dishwashing soap in the mouths of kids with ASD a form of "discipline", who belittle, mock and tease their students until they snap and then call the police to put the kids into stress positions to "keep everyone safe".

This is the stream that families in the ASD tribe have to swim against everyday. If you're a little emotionally fragile like me, some days if feels like it would just be easier to stop struggling and let that stream pull you under. I don't because I can't (whatever I think about my life, I know my kid loves his and doesn't want to go anywhere) but someone who is a little more isolated, a little less grounded?

I could see someone deciding that they just can't tolerate the pain anymore. But then they think, "...what about my kid? How can I leave this world and abandon my child to the tender mercies of the jackals who say that she/he should have never existed in the first place?" The rest of the story writes itself.

TL;DR: The hate in this world for people who are a little more different is toxic. It can break someone's mind and crush their spirit. A parent in that state of mind is a broken person and needs help, not because of the strain of having "a child like that" but because they and their child live in a world full of ignorant and hateful people who do not wish them well.

Bard said...


ok wow. Someone actually doesn't read shit. you go on about how you don't agree what Keli did or condone, but you come on to an autistic persons blog asking them have sympathy for a murderer. Re read your posts, you care more about a child-killer than the victim and that is why my precious autistic brothers and sisters are dying. you Jen, deny it all you want, are enabling women to kill there kids. Because people like you will soothe them and tell them "they just don't understand."

being NT, its not surprising that you arrogantly piss on K and other auties. We're used to being shat on by your ilk. we're not real people to you. it sickens me that you come to an autistic space and vomit this bullshit. I know plenty of moms who don't kill their kids, I work at a school with other autitics. I have been smacked, bit, kicked, spit at. I hear the stories of moms fighting medicaid, insurance and school districts. They love their kids and frankly, I don't believe Keli did. and you know I am going to stay on my high horse. you won't be able to kill me.

Bard said...

also for the record. we have been problem solving for years. but clearly, you don't care about our solutions because they don't include NTs.

Neurodivergent K said...

I teach Autistic kids activism and advocacy skills.

I wrote the book, literally, on that.

But nope, no problem solving.

None at all.

Because my solutions are not pooooooooooor moooooooooooooooom, they're "help the Autistic person be the best them they can be".

You don't know SHIT. Get the fuck off my blog. I was helping people while fucking HOMELESS. I help autistic people now, while living in dire poverty. I can't get services because of whinyasses like YOU insisting that adults who can blog don't really need services. Yet I still help people.

Children. Adults. Adolescents.

The conclusion I have come to is that the problem is societal attitudes. That is what I am trying to solve. Go fucking solve that problem, starting with yourself.

Anonymous said...

Oh hey also, Jen you know for sure that Kelli was trying to "rescue" Issy from people like us? Do you know that? That she was trying to keep her daughter away from people like us? I'd be very curious as to how it is that you know that.

Because if that's true, then it was a very, very wrong move.

Autistic grownups remember what it was like to be autistic kids. Some have had backgrounds aggression issues very similar to Issy's.

Her mother should have been seeking these people out for insight. She should have been eager for Issy to get to know them and learn from them.

If the rest of Issy's family decides to do better than her mother did (though I'm very ambivalent about the notion of the rest of her family ever getting her back), then hopefully that can still happen, and Issy could have the kind of role models and support that she deserves.

JenC said...

You clearly do not grasp the depths of THIS situation and are convinced it is identical to your own. I assure you it is not. I have an autistic daughter who is about to turn 13, and yes, I have been hit. We all have. But this situation is different. Extremely different. We who did not live it do not know how hard that must have been day in and day out. This woman felt utterly hopeless. I know she would have never willingly hurt her daughter. Her life was dedicated to just the opposite. She reached a dark, dark place where she no longer saw a light at the end of the tunnel she worked so hard to dig. I imagine she saw a future for her daughter where, because she was a danger to herself and others, she would be medicated and put in a home full of others in various states of serious mental health problems. No one to love her, no one to kiss her goodnight, and no one to continue loving her after she hurt them. I am sure she felt that Issy was doomed to a sad and lonely life, and that she wanted to spare the rest of the family from the ongoing struggle. I am sure she wanted her other children to have a chance to finally thrive, and not live in fear. This was obviously not the right choice, but please understand it wasn't made with a clear head. Something had to have snapped, or probably more accurately, died in her that day. NO ONE is blaming Issy. NO ONE has ignored her special gifts. Please keep your comments to yourself, you do not know what you are talking about.

Angie Jackson said...

The idea K has a perfect and privileged life is ludicrous. She has survived horrific abuse, much of it at the hands of her "poor mother". I suppose it's easier to sit on your own, NT status high horse than spare some of that famous empathy for K?

Morgan Fyfe-Williams said...

If one is feeling homicidal one should seek help with that, demand it, in fact. For protection of others as a priority. One should not carry through with it.

I don't know much of Kelli's backstory and don't want to; I am on Issy's side. I know what it feels like being extremely depressed, blah, etc. It Is Not An Excuse For Murder.

I hope Issy gets to see how many of us stand with her. I hope she is able to thrive despite all this horror inflicted by the one that should both have known, and done, much better.