Recently, the official obituary of Patricia Desmond, who was born cognitively impaired, positioned her in that loving way. She was among the fortunate.
Patrica's family found the resources needed for her to live a relatively full independent life. That included sharing an apartment with another special woman Nancy. Patricia died in her 70s. The sister of college acquaintance Anne Desmond, she had been one of my "pen pals" since the late 1960s. Never did she forget my birthday.
Patrica's inspiritual story stands in contrast to the two high-profile cases of autistic children whose mothers encountered the kind of frustration which allegedly pushed them over the edge.
One is Kelli Stapleton, whose daughter Issy is not only autistic but violent. In seeming despair, Stapelton tried to murder her and kill herself. She took a plea, which means no trial, and is now in prison. Here is here story as told by Hanna Rosin in New York Magazine.
The other is Gigi Jordan, currently on trial for succceeding in murdering her autistic son Jude. Her simultaneous suicide attempt was not successful.
In Stapleton's situation, some media coverage is compassionate. For Jordan, a former executive, it is not. But, what has done both of them is not the court of public opinion. It is the actual court of law. Stapleton is in prison. Jordan has already spent years in lock-up, awaiting trial. The odds are that she will spend more time there or in a criminal psychiatric facility.
Both mothers represent the emotional agony and operational difficulties of trying to cope with the realities of being resonsible for an autistic offspring. Society hasn't seemed to come up with much insight or concrete help. Therefore, the odds sadly are: There will be more legal cases involving the attempted or successful murder of autistic children and mothers, as well as fathers, who face legal prosecution.
Are there no answers because we are unable to frame the questions in a realistic way? Current approaches seem to assume happy endings. After all, that's the American Way, land of total optimism.