A mother of two children with autism faces a murder charge in the strangulation of her 5-year-old son and charges are pending in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, WFAA reports.
Saiqa Akhter, 30, told the 911 operator in an apparent confession that "Both are autistic... I don't want my kids to be like that. I want normal kids."
While I'd rather not comment on this story and ignore it, something pulls at me to write about it.
As a mother of an 8-year-old son with autism, the highs and lows of this journey are hard to describe.
The isolated struggle of a parent trying to raise a child with autism cannot be understated. In fact, a local autism advocate Mara LaViola told WFAA, "I wish I could convey to you what it is like to raise a child on the spectrum who is escaping the house," LaViola said. "You find them on top of your kitchen cabinets. Breaking things. Throwing things. Most of the time it's because they're trying to communicate and they're not able to."
In some ways, I feel like I failed a mother who may have just needed support. It's not clear if she had support, but someone somewhere should have intervened before she got to this point.
If you are raising a child with autism, please reach out. Find other moms dealing with autism to connect with, even if just over e-mail or the phone. Do not go through this journey alone.
In all the specialists I've met with over the years to treat my son with autism, no outlet has been more beneficial to me than talking to other moms. Nobody else can relate to your daily life. Moms in the autism battleground will lift you up when you are down and celebrate even the smallest achievements.
As a mother raising a child with autism, so often people tell me they don't know how to help. Here's how others in my life have been the most helpful:
- Ask the parent how to interact with the child, what things they like to do or eat
- If you have older children, show them some silly games to play with the child with autism while the mom gets a break to visit
- Give them a break from talking about autism, diets, treatments, therapies and just treat them like any other parent
- When you feel comfortable, invite the child with autism over to play or to give the parent a break
- Since it is often hard to get to the grocery store with a child with autism, offer to pick things up or shop for them
- Show the child with autism they are loved in their community, you don't know how huge this is for the parents!
Ask the local school district, speech therapists or autism therapists to recommend support groups.
Some of the groups that have most helped me out in Dallas are:
If you are worried about a mother raising a child with autism, reach out to the local Autism Society where she lives to ask about support groups or e-mail list srvs.
Parents dealing with autism need lots of encouragement, love, sympathy and listening ear. It can be the most rewarding and the most draining journey imaginable.
Don't hesitate to intervene if you see a parent dealing with autism struggling -- it may just save a life, or at least help one be happier.