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Is the Stress of Caring for Autistic Kids Sending Moms over the Edge?

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Momlogic's Vivian: The New York Daily News reports that Micaela Jackson, 37, and her 12-year-old autistic son, Kenneth Holmes, were found in bed in the single mother's apartment in the Bronx -- both dead from gunshots to the head. Police believe Jackson shot her son first, then shot herself.

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Jackson's sister, worried because she couldn't get in touch with her, called the cops and showed up at her place to find the door chain locked from the inside. The super let her in, and she found a 9-mm pistol near their bodies.

This is not the first story we've heard about a mom of an autistic child going on a murder-suicide mission. A few months back, we learned about a mom who killed her son and then herself in a Manhattan hotel.

It's no secret living that with an autistic child can be extremely stressful, and it's heartbreaking to learn of parents who snap under the pressure. One things for sure: We'll be reaching out to friends of ours with autistic children to offer support more often.

Do you know anyone with an autistic child? How do you reach out to support them?


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15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jody July 29, 2010, 3:32 PM

I’m horrified, but not surprised. Families just don’t support each other any more. Grandparents are less involved and spending little to no quality time with their grandchildren and aunts, uncles and cousins are often nothing more than an infrequent email. It’s heartbreaking how unattached families have become, and how it’s affecting today’s (and tomorrows) youth.

Sean Kenney July 29, 2010, 6:36 PM

I completely agree with Jody. It seems as though family members think that “dealing” with autism is just an inconvenience to the parents, and that they don’t really need help.

Cheryl July 30, 2010, 4:59 AM

I am deeply saddened by this story. It is so difficult to have a child with special needs.

KIM July 30, 2010, 11:02 AM

There’s a concept about helping people. It’s called “casserole kindness”. It is easy to help a family in times of a death or a short term illness. The crisis passes, and the uninvolved can go about their merry way. Families dealing with autism are a life long commitment. Not many have the energy and time to be there for another family forever. I know…I’m an autism parent. MANY best friends have separated themselves from me. I need too much from them. It’s a sad reality.

melissa July 30, 2010, 6:56 PM

This story is so sad but yet sadly not so uncommon. As a parent of a child w/PDD and many other medical issues i say i am so mad then i realize i am just frustrated. Family has gone astray these days and we are left with no support system. I know that moms and dads alike deal with so much with these children and we need to help each other!!! Kudos to those who do it everyday!!!!!

Julz August 3, 2010, 12:54 PM

As a mother of an autistic child, as good as this article may be to raise awareness, it does nothing to help mother’s like myself dealing with the everyday challenges of raising a special needs child. It gives no refreneces or helpful ideas or tips. It is very stressful to raise a child with special needs, and until you are in that very position you can not understand the physical and phycological demands.

Ru August 5, 2010, 7:56 AM

My best friend’s little brother has an autism-spectrum disorder, and her parents deal with him by…pushing him on the other parent, of course. The parents quite honestly shouldn’t have had kids (I mean, if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have my best friend, but you know what I mean) because they act too much like children. My best friend has had to do most of the “parenting” for her little brother even though she’s only three years older than he is, but she’s got a good social network of friends to help support her and her brother.

autismummie October 24, 2010, 1:07 PM

CPTSD can occur in primary caregivers/parents of severely autistic persons who exhibit intracable, prolonged, extreme self-injurious or assaultive behaviors. Witnessing repeated acts of such complex, high risk behaviors, where the person must constantly protect the other person is classic CPTSD, in a situation that is episodic, chronic and acute. It is one of the most undereported conditions facing families raising disabled children with extreme, challenging behaviors which require constant emergency interventions. The constant state of emergency and pressure of providing safety is what leads to CPTSD in primary caregivers. It is also seen in caregivers of dementia patients, who are without relief or respite care. Incessant or disruptive vocalizations often exacerbate the stress loads on caregivers of aging, elderly parents with dementia, further contributing to CPTSD, as auditory overload, insult factors. Imagine being in same room for days without relief, with someone who is screaming and talking nonsense. Or who is biting self. Or slapping the table. It can drive someone nuts. These people need help. Respite. Relief. And so does the patient. There is hope. But don’t expect to get it from most social service agencies or your shrink. Let’s think about this. You spend 29 minutes on the phone, making an appointment, so you can wait 3 weeks, to drive 45 minutes to wait in a doctors office for another 45 minutes, so you can “talk” to someone for 5 minutes, who will send you to the pharmacy, where you’ll wait for another 45 minutes, then drive home and take a pill. NO THANKS. I’d rather punch a hole in the wall or pull chuncks of hair from my skull. No really. But most times, as soon as respite care arrives, I grab my dog and go on a LONG hike and blast music in my IPOD to eliminate the constant sounds of slapping and screaming and punching noises that invade my brain while caregiving severely autistic son with loud vocalizations, extremely intense self abusive meltdowns and seizure disorder. If the hike doesn’t work I drink. Yes, I like the scripture that says, “GIVE WINE TO THOSE WHO ARE IN MISERY>” You got it baby. Drink up. (while you’re getting respite, not while you are caregiving, of course) Helloooooooo

Kim  October 24, 2010, 1:14 PM

When my son was diagnosed with autism, my mother rolled her eyes and said, “oh, poor Kimmi, me and my handicapped child.” This is the same woman who sent us to Catholic school for years, and told us abortion was evil. Oh well, over the years God has sent others into my life to replace this monster mother, thank GOD. There are good people out there, but you need to make your needs known to them. Remember the woman in the bible who kept pounding on the door until the guy opened it and gave her the bread she needed? Be that woman.

Fire Pit Cooking Grate December 9, 2010, 8:22 AM

Sometimes people are layered like that. There’s something totally different underneath than what’s on the surface. But sometimes, there’s a third, even deeper level, and that one is the same as the top surface one. Like with pie.

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