Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where Was I When Kelli Stapleton Needed Help?

Beth Ryan

So, as an administrator of Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance, I’ve seen a lot of questions from parents asking, “Where were you when Kelli Stapleton needed help with her daughter, Issy?” And, “Did you donate to Issy’s treatment?” These questions are asked of Autistic activists and parents of Autistic children who are outraged at the attempted murder of Issy by her own mother, Kelli. Those that have zero empathy for Kelli. Those that believe that parents that would murder their own disabled children are as accountable as parents that murder their own non-disabled children–and that the prosecution of these criminals should reflect that without exception.

Oh no, you do not get to lay the blame of this massive tragedy at my feet or at those of Autistic activists.

Let me start by telling you where was.

I was first, and foremost, taking care of my own children. Taking care of myself. My children will always come before everything else. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

I had never heard of Kelli until Kelli tried to kill Issy. But had I heard of her, I can tell you that I would not have “liked” the Facebook page which was designed, as best as I can tell, to raise funds for ABA treatment for Issy. I would have especially not liked the page if I had seen this video of Issy having reacting to being told to have “quiet hands and feet” after her own mother told her that she was going to be her “worker” for the day. No, no I would not like that. I don’t like that.

Had I known of Kelli and Issi, I might have tried to reach out with suggestions that, perhaps, the intervention style employed, ABA, was one of the causes of Issy’s physical reactions. But honestly? Probably not, because I have made suggestions of a similar nature to parents in Kelli’s clique and have been attacked.

Had I known of Kelli and Issi, and seen Kelli’s blog, I might have suggested that Kelli not use language which degraded and humiliated Issy. I might have indicated that I thought it was extremely disrespectful to Issy, for Kelli to regularly characterize her as “violent” on her blog. I might have said that the language she used to describe her own daughter was hateful. But I suspect that I could not have worded this in a way that would have incited unrest from that same clique. So I probably would have decided against that because I haven’t been able to do that effectively in the past.

Had I known that Kelli was on the brink of trying to kill Issi? I would have reported it to authorities. I would have done anything in my power to stop that. But as I did not know Kelli, I will have to leave that question at the feet of her friends who had a more intimate understanding of what Kelli was thinking.

As far as Autistic activists go … I cannot account for their time and do not feel that this is the question that we should be asking. I know that many adult Activists spend countless hours warning against the dangers of abusive therapies and interventions. I know that they spend countless hours responding to blog posts similar to Kelli’s and are met with angry hostility. And I know that adult activists, many who live on disability, do not have funds to spare for treatments for a child.  Especially the same treatments that they received as children which caused them PTSD -- from which they continue to suffer.

So I am reading these questions. And deleting them on my facebook page. And I am reading blogs written by Kelli’s friends and the comments that folks are making on these blogs.

And I am disturbed.  Disturbed to see so many parents of Autistic children saying, “this could be me.”

So what am I doing about that now? Well, I am posting a list of ways for parents who are thinking about harming/killing their children to seek crisis intervention on my parent page. Because, yes, if you can actually see yourself in this situation -- one where you can imagine yourself actually harming your own child, you are already knee deep in crisis.

And when I come across these comments, I will report them and hope for the best. I’m not a crisis interventionist. That’s all I am qualified to do.

I wish that I could do more.  But unless I know the person, that is the best I can do. And I probably will never know a person who would even conceive of killing her child. Why? Because I tend to choose my friends carefully and would-be murderers probably won’t make the shortlist.

So to those asking where I’ve been, I hope that answers your question. And I hope that the fact that I have taken the liberty of answering where I will be when I encounter comments of those that are already on the road to killing a child will render future questions, from friends of attempted murderers attempting to lay the blame on anyone but the murderers and those that had intimate knowledge of the plight of endangered children, unnecessary.

I hope that friends of Kelli will stop asking why people are trying to “vilify” Kelli and come to understand that Kelli is already a villain. No vilification necessary. And maybe, just maybe, they will be in a better position to spot other potential villains among their ranks.