Mom Talks About Hitting Her Autistic Son
I am grateful to Alexis Magnusson for her courage in admitting that she hit her six-year-old autistic son:
This was two years ago. It had never happened before and it has never happened since (and I feel a need to explain that it was opened handed and did not leave a mark... but it was so beyond wrong). I can give you every reason as to what brought me to this point: I hadn't slept for days because Abby had pneumonia, that this had been the third day in a row that I had to pick up Casey early from school because he was "a danger to himself and the other children in the classroom" and there was "nothing more they can do," or that he had been screaming at that point for three hours, and in that time, he had bitten, kicked, punched, and thrown chairs and shoes at me and both of his brothers -- and was then threatening to hurt his baby sister. But you know what? Nothing I can say could justify my actions there. I didn't hit the school, the pneumonia, or the the part of his autism that makes him rage. I hit my son. My beautiful boy.
It kills me to put this out in the public. It kills me to relive this day. My heart still aches at the thought of causing harm to my beautiful little boy. So then, why am I telling you this? Because I think this is a conversation that is important. We as parents of children with autism feel a need to be "super parents." I felt a need to fit myself into a mold that I thought a special needs parent should fit. I didn't ask for help because I was terrified of telling someone that I couldn't handle what was on my plate. I wanted to look the part, and even more so, I wanted to FEEL the part. I had a lot of people telling me how great I was based simply on the diagnoses of my children. I wanted to live up to what I thought I should be. In so doing, I had run myself ragged, was overwhelmed, overtired and pushed beyond my limit.
I hope that, rather than judging her, we will remember our own imperfections and get the help we need if we are in danger of hurting ourselves or others.