On Sep. 9 The Charlotte Observer reports that Michael Stapleton, the father of the 14-year old severely autistic girl, Issy Stapleton, says she is doing much better in the hospital after her mother's attempted murder suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Issy has been taken off of ventilation and is now walking, talking and breathing on her own.
Kelli Stapleton, the mother of Issy was released from the hospital the same day and is now being charged with attempted murder. For those that are unfamiliar with the family, Issy had severe autism, her mother Kelli wrote about their lie and Issy's journey on a blog called "The Status Woe." In Kelli's last post, she wrote about how her daughter's funding for her special education had been yanked because of a teacher's dislike of the behavioral plan that needed to be very strictly followed to ensure everyone's safety (Issy was very violent) as well as for her best shot of getting an education. This was the same day that Kellie later tried to poison herself and Issy while they sat in a van unconscious.
As a parent of an autistic child, I could and would never condone murder of a child or anyone else. However, I also know the importance and the difficulty of getting funding for treatments, help for your child when the insurance, friends, family, and the state turn you away. Kelli's story is not unique in that she was the only one suffering with a child that has severe autism who is also very violent. There has consistently been little help for the Stapleton family as there is for several other families. Being apart of the autistic community and traveling in many of the same circles as Kelli and her daughter Issy, I know the things that they went through. I know the trials and horrors that Kelli lived through on a personal level as well as in my heart. While no parent condones what Kelli did, it was something that she honestly felt as if it were a mercy killing for her and her daughter. Living with a very violent child that doesn't understand action and consequences and receiving no help is very difficult. There is often no where to turn to and nobody to help you. It is almost like handing yourself over to a fight club to be their human punching bag.
Kelli will pay for her crime and likely never be allowed to have contact with her daughter again, but she is recovering nicely in the hospital. The question that now remains is what is there for Issy now? Many institutions (even those that take autistic people) will not take her because she's violent. She has three siblings that her now single father will have to care for as well. What is to become of this poor girl?