Wednesday night, a Bronx woman buckled under the pressure of taking care of her autistic son, and shot her son and herself to death.
Earlier this week, a Dallas woman killed both her young children because they were autistic and she wanted "normal kids."
There's something broken in our support system.
All parents, whether their children are typical or atypical, need help. Parents without partners need even more support. I am fortunate: my husband is present and involved, my parents live nearby and love to spend time with their grandson, I only have one child to care for, and we are not struggling to figure out how to afford food or rent. I am educated enough to know we are more fortunate than many in this country, and I still feel overwhelmed sometimes by the demands of raising my son.
What could have helped these moms and saved their lives and the lives of their children? Therapy for themselves? Access to parent training services? A network of friends who understand the unique pressures of raising a child with an ASD? I certainly don't know their individual situations, but I think it's safe to say there were some big holes in their safety nets.
Let's all look out for each other. Listen to your friends. Let them vent their frustrations without judging them. Tell your mommy-friend she's doing a good job. If you know a single parent, ask if you can watch her kids for an hour or two so she can recharge and take care of herself. If you have a friend who is raising a child with special needs, do a little research on the child's condition so you can deepen your empathy.
Ask your friend what she needs.
Be open to actually providing what she needs.