By now, just about everyone in the Autism community has heard about this situation. I have deliberately held off on commenting so that I could process my own feelings about this.
I help support a number of families through various groups on facebook, and in my home state. I wish that I could say that the events leading up to the incident in September 2013 were unique to the Stapleton family. Sadly, I can not.
Our David is a lot younger than the Stapleton daughter. Sure he isn’t quite as developed physically, but let me tell you, strength in a person with uncontrolled rage is an incredible thing. Words can not begin to describe how powerful these children are.
There were times when David would come out of his rage and not have any memories of the incident. Attacking teachers, parents, siblings and even pets. Everyone was fair game to him.
Have I ever thought of the solution that Mrs. Stapleton attempted? No. I have not. We cried out for help, and lucky enough that call was answered. In our struggles with our school district, they saw that we needed help. That David needed help.
Would I like for him to return home and attend our community school again? Yes. However I am a realist. Sure David has made great progress in his treatment program, I am proud of him every day. But…
But, he has made progress in two other facilities before this one. I wish that things could be different for David. I wish that I could keep the loveable child without the underlying behaviors. However. By placing David in a psychiatric residential treatment facility, we are ensuring the safety of our whole family. Including David.
It is not easy to ask for help. It is not easy to say we can’t do it any more. I know this first hand, caring for David, with help from mom almost killed me the last summer that he was home. It wasn’t suicide. I was so drained physically and emotionally that I truly had nothing left to give David.
Our family is slowly healing. You can’t undo that level of damage over night. We do this with laughter, love and kindness. We also have an incredibly supportive network of friends.
For the record, I don’t condone Mrs. Stapleton for what she attempted to do. She will likely spend a long time in prison getting over the trauma. And that is what it is, trauma. I hope that her family, gets the help and support that they desperately need.
In the end, awareness isn’t enough. Families need long-term support. When the risk of working with people and an Autism diagnosis is dangerous, and potentially very dangerous who wants to work with that family? Honestly? Very few people.
When we placed David in his current facility we had to go outside of our state to find the help he needs. This limits the amount of interaction that we have with David to phone calls and in-person visits every couple of months.
Families need help before they feel like the only way is to removal of the child from their life. You can’t just erase a life and hope everything is better.