It’s no news to me that autistic children have been murdered by their parents, as have non-autistic children, and when they are, they are frequently given lighter sentencing (because their child was autistic), and shown great sympathy by the media, who praise their actions as “mercy killings.” Karen McCarron, an Illinois mother of a non-verbal autistic daughter, killed her daughter in 2006 and was sentenced in 2008 with thirty-six years in prison, thirty months of supervised release after her prison term and a $25,000 fine. The media praised Karen, however, saying she was brave to kill her daughter because she “might not have had a good life.” This argument is used by mothers who get abortions, yet the politicians (particularly Conservative Republicans) and the media, especially in the last few days with the elections being held, demonize these women as murderers and child-killers. But when a child that is unequivocally a living thing is murdered, assuming they are autistic, the media and law makers give them sub-standard sentences and sympathy. Recently, two autistic boys, not even ten years old, were murdered by the people they should have been able to trust the most: London McCabe, seven-years old, by his mother Jillian, and Jude Mirra, eight, by his medical entrepreneur California mother Gigi Jordan. For this, Jordan was given twenty-five years for manslaughter, while Jillian is held on $1 million bail until her court date on November 12. Jillian has also been justified by her supporter under the notion that he was mentally ill.
It saddens me to see these boys lost. They were younger than any people I have ever known or met to have died young, including twenty-year old college students who I danced with at a school formal. While the media
1. While the media praises “courage” of these non-verbal autistic mothers, they show no respect for mothers of non-verbal autistics who gave their children all they could to have the best possible life: Seriously, there are non-verbal autistic whose mothers (and fathers) respected that they had great talents and gifts to give, in spite of the fact that they would never meet conventional markers of success, including Brooke, the daughter of autism mother and blogger Diary of a Mom, Emma Hope, and Amy Sequenzia. I know many of these mothers myself and they are willing to sacrifice everything they have worked for so their child can live with the best possible life. Ignoring these mothers while praising Jillian and Jordan is an insult, as if saying it is more courageous to murder your autistic child than showing them love and support to lead whatever the best possible life is for them.
2. McCabe and Jordan did not make the most human choices for their son, and there were plenty of others out there: Even if they could not have handled the stress of raising a non-verbal autistic child, there are others who could who would have been happy to raise these boys. Autism organizations worldwide spoke out on the murder of London, stating how before his death, many other parents were willing to adopt him. The media honors these two mothers for instantly jumping to the most violent and life-threatening solution.
3. The phrase “mental illness” does not justify murder: When mentally ill people such as Elliot Rodgers and Adam Lanza from the Santa Barbara and Sandy Hook shooting murder non-autistic and older people, we do not tolerate that. Jillian McCabe and Gigi Jordan should be no different.
4. And for one fourth fact: How will Jillian and Jordan’s life after their children’s death compare to the life their children will now never know: Jordan’s (and possibly Jillian’s) sentencing, though not near what I would have liked it to be, will include over two decades of prison, with possible jail rape, abuse, and physical and emotional torture. Not to mention the fact that they are both now parents who have lost their own children. I know many of these parents. I have stayed up crying countless nights for their own well-being, as well as my own. They and their children have gone to my schools, my temples, my workplaces, everywhere. Many never recover and have later contemplated or tried suicide. That Jordan and Jillian thought the pain of losing their child would be less than the pain of their children as they never make it to traditional markers of success shows me how little they care about them. And the fact that they were willing to face the cruelties of prison life over living in a world with their sons shows me they deserve them even more. These events have prompted such a passion for all autistic people in me that the day after I heard about the first one, I wrote on Facebook with a link shared to the murder, “Let me just say to everyone now that if you ever abuse, neglect, discriminate, intimidate, harass, or malign an autistic of any background, in any capacity, for any reason or for any cause, I wish for no connection of any type to you, whether they be professional, romantic, platonic, or even electronic. Let me also say to anyone who has endorsed, promoted, or manipulated the idea of "autism awareness" in any way: that the mere phrase "autism awareness" is not a term for which I will instantly consider you harmful, but if you are to be connected to that phrase in any way possible, I consider the burden of proof to be on you that you and your efforts have gone beyond the bare minimum to respect the concerns, issues, respect, dignity, equality, feelings, and integrity of every single, solitary person who is in any way, shape, or form a member of the autistic community.”