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By now many of you may have heard the tragic news about Kelli and Issy Stapleton. Kelli is the mother of an autistic daughter who has some incredibly serious and severe aggression and violent behavior. This mother is a fellow blogger. I didn’t know her personall, and only read her blog on occasion, but word of Kelli Stapleton was passed throughout the autism blogging community. Word of her love for her child, the ferocity with which she fought to raise awareness about her family’s situation, the lengths to which she was willing to go to get the help Issy so desperately needed. Kelli, by all accounts, was one hell of an advocate for her child. She was doing it right.
On September 3, something went very wrong.
Tuesday Kelli allegedly attempted to kill Issy and herself.
Her last blog update was incredibly positive and optimistic about Issy’s new behavior plan. What happened between August 27 and September 3 is unknown to me. And in my mind, it’s almost immaterial. I’m not here to judge Kelli. Like her, I have an aggressive, violent autistic child. Like her, I have shouted my concerns from the roof tops – psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians and educators have all heard my concerns about his aggression, SIBs and violence. Like her, I have wept, shaken my fist at society and raged at my impotence to help him.
And that’s just it: “like me.” Kelli is like me. An autism mom. A blogger. An advocate.
She is one of us.
And yet, this.
There is no excuse.
But there are reasons.
And, now, there needs to be change within our community. The special needs community is a house divided. We have anti-vaxxers, biomeds, those looking for a cure. We have staunch vaccination advocates. Those who medicate their children. Those who would never dream of curing their child. And we are all at each other’s throats. Self-advocates versus parents. Autism Speaks against…the list goes on and on for autism and other disabilities, ad infinitum.
No more. Our differences cannot matter any more. We cannot see another family in this same tragic position. We must put our personal feelings aside and come together to support and uplift each other.
No more families without hope.
No more parents without a support system.
No more murdered autistic children.
Let the Stapleton family be a rallying cry to all parents, advocates and organizations. Our need for understanding and support is bigger than what petty arguments we may have had in the past. Let this be the good that results from this horrific tragedy.
If you are a special needs parent, caregiver, or family member – reach out to those around you. Reach out to the stressed-out looking parent at school. Become friends with the other families in the Challenger League. Form a circle of friends. We have to do this. God knows society as a whole will let us drown. No one knows us like us. No one knows our needs, our struggles, our fears, hopes and dreams – except us. Get involved, damn it! Do your part to make sure there are no more stories like this one.
We need friends. We need support. We need understanding. We need the friendly ear after the meltdown from hell.
We need us.
We won’t make it with out us.
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