It Is Wrong to Murder Your Autistic Child by Judy Endow on Ollibean

I know how it feels to be the victim, the mother, the caregiver and the social worker. And I know this: IT IS WRONG TO MURDER YOUR AUTISTIC CHILD.

It’s Wrong to Murder Your Autistic Child.

Issy’s Story

Photograph of Issy Stapleton. Light skinned blonde girl with shoulder length hair looks out a car window. She is wearing sunglasses and a pink tshirt.


Issy Stapleton, 14, remained hospitalized in Grand Rapids, Michigan late Wednesday after her mother, Kelli Stapleton, allegedly attempted to murder her.

State police Lt. Kip Belcher said two portable charcoal grills were burning inside the vehicle where Issy was found unconscious. He said the van’s windows were shut and investigators believe Issy’s mother intended to murder her daughter.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Tang-Anderson said authorities don’t believe the incident was an accident. Benzie County Prosecutor Sara Swanson said she authorized a felony attempted murder charge.

Belcher says Issy may have suffered permanent brain damage from the carbon monoxide poisoning. Issy’s mother was also found in the van and though unconscious when found, is expected to make a full recovery and is expected to be arraigned yet this week in 85th District Court.

Attempted murder carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment with parole.

The above story is what I constructed by merely pulling from the original story. It is horrifying. Any person who attempts to murder a 14-year-old sparks in us an outrage, as it should. It is not uncommon for people to read this and say, “I hope that murderer never gets out of prison!” or even, “Prison is too good for her!”

I shared Issy’s story above rather than her mother’s story. The news media shares Issy’s mother’s story as if the story is about Issy’s mother and not about Issy. That is because Issy is autistic. For some reason, in our warped culture, being autistic somehow means you don’t count – you are not considered human being enough to count even after someone tries to murder you! In fact, you will likely not even be part of the story after the first few sentences.

The story becomes one of excuses for the mother or care giver who attempts to or actually succeeds in murdering the autistic. At our core, as a society, we hold the belief that a disabled person is better off dead.

It’s Wrong to Sympathize with the Murderer

We don’t actually talk about this belief, but it is what is underneath when so many can read the story and agree with and sympathize with the murderer. In no other murder scenario do we do this – sympathize with the murder and blame lack of services. Disabled people are construed as a burden to their families and are even thought to be the fault of their own murders! Sympathy starts pouring in for the poor murderer who had no choice and who, in fact, did what any one else would be driven to do under the same circumstances is what we are told by reporters.


There are ever so many things wrong with this story line we see repeated about the “unfortunate tragedy” due to the “lack of services” for the family of an autistic person, while writing out the actual autistic person who was in fact murdered or had an attempt of murder carried out against her.

Here are some facts the news reports do not tell us:

1. Autistic people are human beings. Human beings do not
deserve to be murdered. PERIOD. NO ifs, ands or buts.

2. Autistic people’s lives are not worth less than other people’s lives.

3. Autistic people do NOT cause their caregivers to murder them.

4. Lack of services is not a reason for murder.

5. If you are a parent or caregiver and feel the only way out is to murder your
child you are in crisis. Call a crisis line. Your child may be removed from your
care temporarily. Foster care isn’t great, but it will keep your child alive while
your crisis state can be addressed.

I know by writing this I will have many parents of autistic children jump all over me saying all the usual things they say. So, I will tell you a bit about me ahead of time.

I was “severe” enough as a child to be institutionalized. As a teen I lived in two foster care arrangements that were not appropriate for an autistic teen. One was a group home for mentally retarded adults (that word was not a bad word at the time) even though I was neither mentally retarded or an adult. The other was a group home for delinquent teens; I was a teen, but not delinquent.

It took me a long time to grow up, but I did grow up. Today I have 3 grown sons, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. I was told my autistic son exhausted all the services when he was a teen, including the state mental institution after which he was returned home to my care. At times I feared for my life. I feared for the lives of my other children. I was only told my son had failed all the services my county had to offer and that I should call the police when he became violent.

I foster parented a severely autistic teen for a short time. I went to college. I got a master’s degree in social work. I worked in clinical settings. Eventually, I limited my practice to autism. Today I have my own business. I am an author, consultant, artist and international speaker on autism topics.

I write all this about myself because, nearing retirement, I have experienced all sides of this many-faceted story. I know how it feels to be the victim, the mother, the caregiver and the social worker. I understand foster care from the angle of the kid in the system, the foster parent and the social worker. And I can tell you that at the end of the day no matter how I look it I know this:


If murder is looking like a solution to you it means you are near the breaking point and need help. Call your local crisis center and say these words, “I am thinking about murdering my autistic child and here is how I would do it.” Then tell them your plan. If you do not have a local crisis hot line go to the nearest hospital emergency room and say the same words. It is not a perfect solution. It is a crisis solution, but will ensure you get someone to help you in the moment because murder is not a solution to your problem.

To see the full story that excuses the attempted murder and in fact writes Issy out of the story part way through here is the link:


About the Author:

Judy Endow, MSW is an author, artist, and international speaker on a variety of autism-related topics. The award winning Paper Words, Discovering and Living with My Autism ,  Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic AdultPaper Words, and many other wonderful books can be found on her website


  1. […] While most people are aware of autism, they are more aware of the stigma and the fear. They are aware of the “link” between autism and vaccines. They are aware that autism is not something you want to deal with yourself. They are aware of the  autism “epidemic”. They are aware of how hard autism is on families and how difficult it is to get help and services, driving many to despair, and even worse, murder. […]

  2. […] ran by non-autistic people sympathize with the parents who murder their autistic children, no matter their age or abilities or “functioning”, and the media congratulates them […]

  3. S. Cross May 6, 2016 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    I don’t believe the writer fully understands the depth of despair of a mother who works full time but doesn’t have the money for intensive care for her autistic children, doesn’t have any spousal support or help, can’t get help from government agencies without quitting her job to devote the necessary time to dealing with them, has failing health from lack of sleep, isolation (there is no money and no babysitter who will deal with autistic tantrums), and stress, not to mention the deep, deep sadness in knowing that your child will never be able to live anywhere but an institution-assuming there is one available when Mom dies or collapses. Don’t tellher “You should…” Because there’s no energy and no time and no way. Understand the frustration and anger and self-reproach, as well as community stigma and disapproval. The mother is truly alone in a hell she feels is of her own making.

    • Ollibean May 6, 2016 at 5:49 pm - Reply

      If you or anyone you know needs help, there is help out there. I’ll help you find it. What the writer, Judy Endow, is saying is that murdering or harming your child is NOT the solution. Whatever the situation, that is not the solution. There are alternatives and there is an enormous community of people that will help. How can we help? LSH

  4. […] It is wrong to murder your autistic child – Judy Endow is an autistic adult, social worker, and parent of an autistic child.  This article addresses the subject thoroughly – from the child’s perspective, not the parent’s; society’s sometimes-chilling view of disabled people, and also includes some practical advice for parents in crisis. […]

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.