Chto delat?

Trigger Warnings: violence against children, violence against autistic individuals, forced sterilization, language

“There’s no group in our society who is more defenceless and therefore more deserving of our protection, than children, especially infants,” Nordheimer said.

This is a quote from a Toronto Star article last week,  The Nordheimer who is quoted is Justice Ian Nordheimer and he is saying this in convicting a mother who killed one of her four children. The mother received a sentence of six years for criminal negligence in allowing her two year old daughter to die. The crown attorney (this would be the prosecutor in the States) is also quoted in the Star article as saying, “(s)he’s the one person that Sakina was supposed to be able to rely upon to keep her safe.”

As far as I can tell in the article there were no supporters saying that they knew her. No one was quoted as saying they were friends with her online. No one was saying that the two year old was aggressive toward the mother.

Yes, this is my Kelli Stapleton post. I had never heard of her until late last week, That’s when I discovered how many friends she had.

It is good that people stand with their friends in times of trouble. Belonging to a community is one of those Maslovian needs. It doesn’t mean that we need to accept what our friends do all the time and it doesn’t mean that we should turn a blind eye to what we think is wrong.

There is no moral equivalency when a parent abuses a child. There is no UN Peacekeeper force that tries to separate both parties and say we won’t judge, we are just here to keep you apart. This is even more true when the child has special needs.

No matter how many times I have read over the last few days that Kelly was on the receiving end of x number of aggressive acts, Issy was the victim here and she did nothing to deserve what her mother is charged with.

Yet, folks are trying to make the case that the mother was pushed to the brink by an aggressive child and not having adequate services to deal with her autistic child’s needs. Alex Spourdalakis’ mother said a lot about not getting the help she needed before she took a similar murder-suicide path.

I see a lot of autistic people trying to have their voices heard when a parent or care-giver abuses autistic people. They say that they have been on the receiving end of abuse for long enough. Then some parents claim that autistic self advocates have a political agenda or that they don’t know what it’s like to have the burden of a special needs child.

When a care-giver or a person in authority hits a child or coerces them or violates them in any way, it erodes the trust they have for anyone. Any kind of assault makes us feel less safe and makes it impossible to trust people. We need to feel secure in order to thrive and be resilient. If autistic people see that parents are saying an aggressive child means that the mother got to a breaking point, aren’t autistic people just marking time until we all turn on them.

It’s not so outlandish for autistic people to think the rest of us want them gone. When large organizations make videos where a mother said she considered killing herself and her child, when large numbers of parents want to cure their children of something that is not medical, when people would rather risk a killer virus than have a kid become autistic, what the heck are people on the spectrum supposed to think.

We can think up all the usual suspects when it comes to eugenics and wanting to weed out “weaknesses” from our hereditary pool. Rather than prove Godwin’s law, I am going to use a different example. Until the early 1970’s a large variety of people were sterilized against their will and without their knowledge in Alberta. Among eugenics programs in Canada, Alberta is the most notorious. The program sterilized many Down’s Syndrome, autism, any variety of people with mental illnesses, a lot of members of First Nations, In too many cases, the person was simply labelled as “mentally deficient” or were given the medical term “moron.”

That was only 40 years ago that the sterilizations stopped.

It is long past the time to accept that the autistic self advocates aren’t angry for the sake of being angry, don’t just have a political agenda or can never understand what a parent of a special needs children is going through. It seems like they just might want the security of life and respect that we say they deserve when someone writes a pink letter saying a kid should be euthanized.


8 thoughts on “Chto delat?

    • I am delighted you knew the reference, but he ripped it off from an earlier Russian work. The first time I heard it translated, it sounded almost delightful: “What Then Is To Be Done.” The usual translation is “What Is To Be Done” and is such a charming way of asking “What’s Next” because surely to goodness something has to change. We have to stop parents from taking the lives of their children and we have to stop thinking this is a binary debate.


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