Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent

She Is One of Us

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.


28 comments on “She Is One of Us

  1. Krystal
    September 5, 2013

    Perfectly written!! Thank you – just thank you.. We need to set aside our differences – we are parents no matter what side of the line we fall on and we need to be there for eachother, for our children – because, well, its the right thing to do. Much love!

  2. ProfMomEsq
    September 5, 2013

    This all needed to be said. And please know, Kelly, I am here if you need a shoulder, a boost, a friend, a safe place. ❤

  3. MommaDe
    September 5, 2013

    And this is why awareness is crucial in communities. Sometimes we, as individual parents and caregivers, are so used to fighting, that we often times overlook WHO we’re fighting and just get to the fight itself. Prayers to the family.

  4. SharingMom
    September 5, 2013

    Well, said. I have met more aggression and resistance from the autism community itself than from others. My desire is simply to share how nutrition and biomedical interventions have help our son TREMENDOUSLY. Will it work for everyone? Probably not, but you don’t know until you try.

    Everyone who shares information is simply offering a solution with the intention of helping, not judging. I am open to hearing and learning what others have tried and have had success with so that it may benefit my son or someone else who is in need. I may not have the same success as you but I am willing to consider it and try.

    Let’s lift each other up not put each other down. Let’s have grace with each other knowing that we are all fighting for our kids. We are all in the same special needs family but not necessarily cut from the same cloth. To each his own but let’s be courteous and encourage one another in our journey.

    • militaryspecialneedsnetwork
      September 6, 2013

      I love your attitude. And the idea of having grace and knowing that we are all fighting for our kids: perfect. Absolutely perfect.

  5. Christi
    September 5, 2013

    Actually the last blog post was made on Sept 3rd.

  6. TheBiggerBen
    September 5, 2013

    Reblogged this on The Bigger Ben and commented:
    I am certainly guilty of casting stones in the ASD community. I am a passionate man. But this blogger has it right. We can’t let anyone go down this road alone.

  7. Lorelei Lorraine Walker
    September 5, 2013

    I’m not sure I can improve upon this!

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  9. Emily
    September 5, 2013

    Nope. This article glamorizes monsterous behavior. I have a child with autism and I know how life can get crazy hard: but no, hurting your child, no. Gross, selfish, heartless behavior.

    • militaryspecialneedsnetwork
      September 5, 2013

      My intent was absolutely not to glamorize this woman or her reprehensible, criminal act. I most strenuously object to the very idea.


  10. eve
    September 5, 2013

    I feel the same way….single mom I fight for everything have not really dated in 13 years cuz of him…Dr look at me oh you doing fine I talked to therapist after how many therapist found one an after 3 visits oh you don’t need me you fine…..the school oh now let’s not get started there this boy in 6th grade tested out 10th grade level if test could went farther he would exceeded…school…nooooo he not that smart…last day school lady year they argued with him bout what A.D.was a whole week calling my son liar in front of class looks it up finally then apologizes…sorry….I am not mad at my son for his behavior I understand it..severe anxiety cuz he don’t want deal with this teacher this year again….daddy not in pix..I struggle everyday to make it to next…an I keep seeing the world going to h…what’s life going to be like for him when no one helps this smart boy in mn…..

    • militaryspecialneedsnetwork
      September 6, 2013

      Eve, if I had a nickel for every time some professional told me that I was doing fine, or that I was doing all I could possibly do, I’d be one rich momma. You hang in there and KEEP FIGHTING. You have friends here and a shoulder to lean on.

  11. Dawn Horne Thompson
    September 5, 2013

    This is from their page……..

    Friends, Family, Colleagues, and Community members:

    By now, many of you have heard the swirling rumors or stories about the recent news involving my wife Kelli and daughter Isabelle. I would like to give you all a brief update to our situation.

    Two nights ago, my wife and daughter were transported to Munson Medical Center and then to Devos Children’s hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment from carbon monoxide poisoning. Kelli has been treated and was still in the hospital as of this morning (Wednesday). Isabelle, however, remains in the critical intensive care unit at Devos to address her immediate and critical needs. She is in outstanding care at Devos and her vitals have improved over the past 12 hours. She is currently receiving help from a respirator and breathing tube and her blood pressure is stable. At this time, she is still unresponsive after being lifted from the medically induced coma she was put in for the treatment of her injuries. She has not yet been conscious since the incident. This is not entirely uncommon as some people go 24-48 hours before waking. We remain upbeat and positive as we expect to see many improvements in the next 12-24 hours. We will continue to work closely with her doctors to get her the best care possible.

    We would like to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers as Isabelle’s condition continues to stabilize. So many of you have been very supportive of Isabelle and my family (today and throughout the years) and for this we are grateful. We are blessed with supportive friends, family, and an incredible community. Even strangers have been supportive of Issy and we ask that they continue to do so during this tough time.

    We are also aware of the many stories and rumors that can accompany such events. We ask that you continue to keep the focus on Isabelle’s recovery and not necessarily on the events that have brought us to this unfortunate fight for her life. We ask that people don’t judge, but instead direct their positive energies on the recovery of this beautiful young lady.

    We also ask that you continue to keep the Frankfort High School Band Director Dan Wilson and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he continues to recover from a serious fall last Monday. He also needs your strength, support, and prayers.

    Lastly, we are so grateful for the outpouring of support for our daughter and family. It has been amazing. While we say thank you, we also continue to ask for people to respect our privacy and allow us to focus on Isabelle’s needs as we pray for a full recovery.

    Thoughtfully and respectfully yours,

    The Matt Stapleton Family

  12. militaryspecialneedsnetwork
    September 5, 2013

    Really fabulous comments. Thank you for taking the time to read and remark on this post. The question is how will this change our community? After the dust settles and this family is long forgotten by the media, will we have come together? Will we be able to prevent such horrible acts in the future?

    There is no excuse for murdering our children. Ever.

    Now what can we do to get families the mental health options they so obviously need?


  13. Joy Leland
    September 6, 2013

    My sister-in-law has a severely autistic son and another son with a lesser degree (?) of autism. I was attempting to get closer to her and to reach out, as we had never been very close. My efforts were rewarded with contemptuous and cruel remarks, blaming me for everything that was wrong in her life, for what was wrong with her children and for the dysfunction of the entire family, going back years before I was even in the family. Obviously, my SIL has deeper issues, but when I attempted to understand and be someone she could turn to, when I tried to reach out to her, I pulled back a bloody stump. People like me, who want to understand and help, can’t do that if parents/families of those with autism react with hatred. DON’T HATE ME – EDUCATE ME!

    • militaryspecialneedsnetwork
      September 6, 2013

      Hi Joy!

      Oh, wow. First, let me say, your attempts at being a support system for your SIL are wonderful and admirable – and, are you available for other families? 😉

      I am sorry your efforts were met with anger. Definitely not to excuse your SIL, but perhaps it had been a crap day(s). Perhaps she had just gotten terrible news about your nephew’s particular diagnosis? Maybe she hadn’t slept in a week – trust me: it’s not unheard of for kids with autism to simply not sleep. Ever.

      Regardless, I want to encourage you to NOT STOP TRYING TO HELP. Yeah, she probably has some other issues. We all do. Please, as much as you can, continue to offer to be part of her support system. Perhaps you could gain entry to her inner circle via your other family members?

      Some helpful ideas that other autism parents have talked about are to order a dinner for them, or bring over a casserole that could be used at their convenience. If applicable, offer to babysit the other kids while she takes your nephew to therapy. Maybe offer to attend a therapy so you can learn with her.

      Above all, just let her know that your nephew is loved. No matter what.

      Not that you have done this at all, but just as an FYI, I would be cautious about offering parenting advice, especially if you do not have autistic children – just because our kids are so unique. Typical parenting techniques often do not work. I would also hesitate to send over every autism-related article or new research study. It can be really overwhelming and not very helpful at all.

      You could also look into joining your local autism support group for more ideas, and to learn about the resources in your area – that way, when she IS ready for your support, you’ll have this knowledge in your back pocket.

      Joy, we are so glad that people like you are out there. Please, keep on trying to break down her defenses. And, if you have any questions or want to vent, or anything at all, please hit me up at


  14. Pingback: Attempted murder/suicide accusations against Kelli Stapleton spark national … | Today Health Channel

  15. Paula C. Durbin-Westby
    September 7, 2013

    Resources for Autistic people in danger and also for parents/caregivers who are concerned that they might be willing to commit murder and/or suicide. The links are being updated in a regular basis by a team from the Autistic community so please check back several time over the next few days.

    • whitepointer
      January 20, 2015

      What about parents who are in danger of their autistic teenage child and concerns they may kill you or a sibling of the autistic child?. Just asking?

  16. wantapeanut
    September 8, 2013

    Exactly. Whatever our differences, we only have each other. If we can’t lean on each other, who can we lean on?

  17. Pingback: This Is Why We Do It | Military Special Needs Network

  18. Pingback: Global Hydranencephaly Foundation: Journey of the Bees | Thought-Filled Thursday: A House Divided

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