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A Look at Causation: The Killer Autism Mom Phenomenon

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Contains adult language


By L.J. Goes

"Yes. Today is the day."  As I read about the murder-suicide of  Maryland Psychiatrist, Dr. Margaret Ferne Jensvold and her son Benjamin Barnhard, (MyFox DC Margaret Jensvold Autism Murder Suicide) I pondered if their tragedy began with this sort of detached speculation. "Gotta remember to stop by the grocery store and the bank before I pick up Ben from school. Do we need grapes?  I should have checked. Did I fill out those forms for summer camp? Looks like I might need to get some gas on the way to work. When to end our lives...when to end our lives." Do these horrific thoughts just co-mingle with one's day to day internal chatter or do they eclipse rational thought over a period of time, like obsessions?  Dr. Margaret was certainly the person we would have gone to to ask such a question, as psychiatry was her specialty. Did she plan their demise for several days? A year? Or did she simply pay too much attention to the passing thought that death was a pleasant alternative to life at a particularly weak moment? Seems odd that a pragmatic person known for helping others would act so drastically. 

 All we know is that Dr. Margaret had a lawsuit against the National Institute of Mental Health for sexual harassment and that a judge came along after an eight person jury found in her favor and overturned their decision.  She was a compassionate professional who cared about women's heath and overcame adversity, according to her attorney. Her son Ben was a good kid and liked sailing with his dad. He was overweight, had autism, suffered at the hands of bullies, and his mom killed him before his 14th birthday. 

During a recent conversation with my friend, autism activist, Ginger Taylor, I kvetched about my life.  "No one is listening. My calls to our political leaders go unanswered. My pleas for local doctors to address the growing concerns of parents receive no response. Every time I do an interview the reporter's pen stops the minute I start talking causation. They smile, focus somewhere on my face (never the eyes) and tolerate the education. Then they nod and dutifully eruct a "huh, interesting..." so they can segue as comfortably as possible to the next meaningless question, "so what's your autistic (cringe) son's favorite toy?" 

"Ever hear the story of Cassandra from Greek Mythology?"  She asked. "Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, which she desperately wanted.  After receiving the gift she made the mistake of refusing his advances. To punish her he made sure no one would ever believe her predictions.  She accurately foretold the fall of Troy and the death of Agamemnon. Eventually she went mad because she spent her life predicting horrific atrocities but not a soul would listen."  

That about sums it up.  My days are comprised of discussions with doctors who do not care to hear what I have to say, despite the copious amounts of scientific evidence I have to present them.  My calls and emails to state representatives are treated like spam.  I am told by the creme de la creme of "autism specialists" (aka a made up title for someone who once talked to someone with autism and is therefore considered a specialist) that my son will most likely outgrow his condition.  When I ask them to explain what "condition" in particular, his vaccine injury, bowel disease, autoimmune dysfunction, metabolic failure, chronic eczema, brain swell, etc. they look at me as if I am Medusa. After explaining  that the gluten in play dough will be an issue for my child during therapy I am told by a flippant therapist (who I pay) that, "He's not going to eat it Mrs. Goes. He's going to play with it." I entertain the idea of grabbing her by the arm and whispering a little white lie into her ear. "Do you see this vial in my purse? It's full of battery acid. Now, I'm not asking you to drink it, but how about you stick your pinkie in and swish it around a bit? As the tip of your finger disintegrates you'll get just a teeny sampling of what my boy's perforated intestines are doing to him on a daily basis." I am fighting for my kid and my family every minute of every day. Ergo the term popularized by Jenny McCarthy for our rapidly growing subculture, Warrior Mothers.  The sad truth about warriors though is that after they've spent a few years of their precious lives in battle, they are never quite the same.  And some don't make it back at all. 

 "Are you there God?"  It's me Margaret." Instead of grappling with the every day dilemmas of puberty like the popular Judy Blume book of my childhood, I imagine a grown up Dr. Margaret uttered these words in attempt to make sense of her messed up life.  She needed answers. She chased the American dream like we all do. Psychiatry is not for slouches. She fell in love, got married, and wanted to have a family just like the rest of us.  Then her son got autism, her marriage fell apart (her ex-husband is interviewed for the article) and a judge comes along and determines her version of events concerning the NIMH was "wildly exaggerated and skewed." How did she get here?

I know what it is to want to die. Until you are on your third sleepless night in a row nursing a newborn while your screaming toddler with autism disrobes and smears his bright yellow diarrhea all over your pajamas and the defenseless baby in your lap, you are not in a position to judge. Because of the successful media campaigns that have painted autism moms as reactionary celebrity-following idiots we are often blamed for our children's conditions.  Never mind the fact that even the CDC admits the typical  non-vaccinating parent has a masters degree and resides in a household that sustains an annual income is 75K a year or more. People who listen to the flatscreen on the wall think they know how it is. They don't. With autism you can be instructed on two completely conflicting versions of behavioral modification methodology and have each one presented to you as the God-spoken truth. One behavioralist will tell you to prevent your son from climbing at all costs. The very same day another one will tell you to create an environment in your home that is as safe as possible for him to indulge his "physical need" to climb. Who is right?  The mainstream medical community tells you there is no cure for autism.  The biomedical community tells you a cure is entirely possible...there are just a thousand different routes to success.  And all of them cost. A lot. Oh, and don't forget--only so much time, tic-toc, tic-toc the window for recovery is closing. The same doctors who poisoned your child will tell you that although his tests reveal elevated levels of mercury, aluminum, cadmium and lead--how they got there is anyone's guess--the process of removing these poisons will surely kill him. Of course, it's entirely up to you if you want to go find some rouge doctor and take that risk with your child's life...and oh, by the way, you're going to want to catch him up on his immunizations today.You insist he is in pain. You are his mom. You know. You are told you just think he is in pain. Lots of autistic kids act like they're in pain. They're not, they're autistic. You point out that "autistic" is just a word made up to describe a bunch of behaviors.  Behaviors that you and thousands of others are convinced are actually symptoms. You have the diarrhea, eczema and distended stomach to prove it.  You are told all these symptoms simply have nothing to do with one another. Why are you always looking for problems that aren't there, Mrs. Mom?

You spend hours cooking organic GF/CF food that you are told is going to make your child better.  It ends up in your face and on the floor. Your family tells you you're too lax on discipline and his developmental delay is no reason for him to not use the toilet properly.  You explain he can have up to 18 bowel movements a day.  Eye rolls and sighs. Your friends suppose that maybe you didn't breast feed long enough but it probably doesn't matter because don't you know, autism is genetic. Everybody knows that. Why are you knocking yourself out with all this holistic crap? Your colleague is constantly regaling you with stories of ultra successful aspies and auties and concludes each one with a nugget of his special brand of wisdom that is meant to convey that your life is not nearly as hard as you think. He's a big fan of The Secret. All the while the child you will protect with the ferocity of a lioness, kicks, punches, hits and claws at you because it's raining when he should be having outside time.  Why can't you just make it stop raining? Your back is shot, your rotator cuff is blown, and you sustain bloody noses and black eyes as easily and frequently as blemishes. It's not personal.  It's autism.  And the screaming.  The constant f*cking screaming.  At home, at the store, on the bus, at the doctor's office, at the park, in bed at night. The thing is, you could take all of this, if only he didn't run like an escaped convict every time you left the house.  This is the one thing that keeps you up at night, checking, checking and rechecking locks.  He's only five and he can already outrun you. Constantly trying to escape his home, his body...his life, it seems. He has no fear and he just won't listen. Your alarm goes off and your very first thought is about how your neurotypical kids are suffering because of all of this and you start sobbing before you've even had your first sip of coffee. You pick up Ken Bock's book, The 4 A's. As you read you realize the shots, the food, the soil, the very air we breathe is quite literally killing your child. I don't care how vigilantly you guard your heart and mind against bitterness and negativity--in the face of these truths your word view is irrevocably altered.  Your child is innocent and this was avoidable.  This never should have happened.  But it did. He's living proof.  And they all know. 

They know.  And they keep doing it.

I am in no way condoning or justifying murder.  I am trying to illustrate that much like the child soldiers in Uganda, mothers like Dr. Margaret are isolated, enraged, fearful, and hopeless. No good decisions are born of these circumstances. If the child soldier analogy disturbs you I'd like to suggest that unless you have a child with autism you have no idea how very much like a child you become.  Nothing of your previous life or existence makes sense anymore.  You are forced to relearn everything. Without support, faith, resources and gobs of money, it's terrifying.  It's terrifying with all those things. Not everyone can make the transition successfully and come out whole on the other side.

 Maybe the question we should all be asking ourselves is, why no media reports about the murder-suicides of parents of children with cancer, leukemia, and diabetes? These horrible diseases are also on the rise. Where are these killer parents? Surely they are out there. No? No.  Because children with these life-altering and life-taking diseases are considered sick by the doctors that treat them and the communities that support them. There is also a standard of care for these children.  There is no standard of care for children with autism. No protocol for the fastest growing epidemic in our nation. You tell your neighbor your child started chemo this week and you get a casserole.  You tell him you started chelating her and you get a visit from the Department of Child and Family Services.  One child has died from chelating because of a nurse's dosing error. How many children have died of complications from chemotherapy?  Zero.  Because it was the cancer that killed that child not the chemo. Period. The doctor said. The parents of these poor children are praised instead of ridiculed, supported instead of shunned. And most importantly, they are never held responsible for their child's condition. Could you imagine? "Yeah, I guess Monica's pediatric neurologist says it's cancer but you know, Monica. If you ask me it's probably a benign tumor with maybe a cyst or two."

If you are offended that I rank autism along side these tragic illnesses then that is for you to sort out on your own.  This stance tells me you are under the influence of the archaic mainstream medical press.  Autism is every bit as debilitating and tragic as these diseases. Science abounds with evidence that autism is indeed a medical problem including debilitating seizures, intestinal dysbiosis, encephalopathy, and auto-immune complications that can lead to death. The problem is if we start to treat these kids in the mainstream medical community as they have been successfully treated in the biomedical community, the chem trail their healing bodies leaves behind leads straight back to the mainstream medical community's parent organization, the medical industrial complex. I'm sure you can understand where this all gets a bit dicey.  Yep, those autism moms are real wackos.  Conspiracy theorists every last one of them. Haven't you heard?  They kill their own children.

In the coming days speculation will abound about Dr. Margaret's mental state.  Talking heads will opine, psychiatrists, much like herself, will be interviewed.  Two more deaths due to autism. It's all so normal and so common. Better diagnosis. Better reporting.  These kids and their murderous parents have always been around.  We're just oh so much better at identifying them.

LJ Goes is Managing Partner of The Misuta Project, Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and Executive Board Member of the Illinois Canary Party

Comments

Dianne

Being a caregiver of an Asperger son I feel for what she and other parents go through. I agree with the comments about helping or noticing a parent in crisis however, a parent of a child with Autism usually does not have a strong social network because caring for a child with Autism does not allow much time for a social life. Which leaves that individual to fight alone.

Each day is a daily struggle and fight to find support from the schools, insurance companies, medical professions and extended family. It is frustrating the amount of time that is put into fighting for support when that time should be spent nuturing the children.

oneVoice

The other big issue is - who takes care of the doctors?
Where do the experts turn when there is a problem?
Donna L.thank you for your golden comment.

 Bayareamom

"This is really at heart a societal problem. The 'village' for many parents is virtually nonexistent. Autism or no autism, people snap. And yes, it's wrong, and I'd pretty much guess that all of these mothers knew they were doing something horribly wrong, but I don't think that condemning these acts is the solution. The solution lies in understanding and compassion and a willingness to spot a parent in crisis and step in to offer help."

WELL said! THANK you.

Hope

Well Said! Thank you...Thank you...Thank you!

Donna L.

Carolyn,
I totally agree with what you are saying and I am in no way arguing here, but I think you would find that most of us who express understanding or empathy with this particular mother would also express the same feelings toward any mother in society who snapped and did the unthinkable (kill her child/children). In my opinion, the problem behind these acts, whether carried out by mothers of kids with autism or mothers of neurotypical children, is basically rooted in stress. Sure, there is often mental illness or medication thrown into the mix, but behind it all, what you have is an individual who has reached the end of her rope and has no one to step in and offer any relief. This isn't exclusive to autism parenting (although no doubt these isues are amplified a hundred times with autism). This is really at heart a societal problem. The 'village' for many parents is virtually nonexistent. Autism or no autism, people snap. And yes, it's wrong, and I'd pretty much guess that all of these mothers knew they were doing something horribly wrong, but I don't think that condemning these acts is the solution. The solution lies in understanding and compassion and a willingness to spot a parent in crisis and step in to offer help.

kathy blanco

here's the weird thing...brain inflammation can cause depression and suicidal tendencies...are we looking at a familial problem with handling environmental insults, also in mother? I think so.
Read http://treatingxmrv.blogspot.com/2011/08/keeping-it-simple.html?spref=fb
Who's to blame, the infectiosu process started by contaminated cell line vaccines, or a mother's desperation?

Carolyn

Thank you for writing this.

Our society has historically viewed individuals with disabilities as of less value. "Invisible victims" like Benjamin go unnoticed most of the time. If we as a community don't voice our outrage, that this life should not have been taken because of his diagnosis of autism, then we allow this to continue. That thought process that our children and their losses are not measured the same as other such losses.

In voicing this some of us have taken heat. Have been asked "Where is our empathy for this mother?". I don't not feel for her, however what she did was not right and blaming this on her son, causes even more harm to all of us really.

Prayers for Benjamin, his family, our community, and other invisible victims who are going unnoticed.

YabbaDabba

You need to have Like buttons - some of these comments are so good, and I don't want to be redundant....

As long as power and money are against us, I fear we will always be like Cassandra. I have felt like that for years.... no, it doesn't stop when they're older, after they're out of school. It comes back at you, with a vengeance, with every new situation.

Great, great post, LJ.

oneVoice

Thank you Bev, good education to parents,kind words and prayers will do wonders.

Bev

Murder and suicide are horrendous acts. Loved ones are shocked and people are puzzled as to why or how this could have happened. Desperate, lonely, mentally ill people make terrible choices when there is no where else to turn. They just want the pain to stop. I can only imagine how alone Dr. Jensvold must have felt especially in her profession.
I do not have children with autism and cannot possibly know what mothers and fathers deal with on a day to day basis. After reading many postings about personal experiences with autism, the picture in my head is of prisoners of war clutching fences looking out at their perpetrators begging for freedom and the whole world looking in with sympathy but doing nothing. I am part of that whole world looking in but by God, I don't know what to do! I am a nurse. I hate vaccinations and speak out against them every opportunity I get. I have a few followers who listened to me and did not vaccinate their children and their children are fine, very healthy as a matter of fact. The parents have the waivers to hand off to the schools when the time comes. I was reprimanded for speaking to a patient about the hazards of the hepatitis B vaccine so I do not preach at work.
I have faith that you prisoners of war will one day be released and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. In the meantime I pray.

CT teacher

Madvocate suggested a strong possibility-psych drugs. Yes she was probably maxed out with a stressful life situation, but that may have caused her to medicate herself with SSRI's. The connection between SSRI's and violence is very strong. Please do not overlook it. The increase in violence in our society can also be laid at the door of the medical industrial complex and Big Pharma.

Less talk, More Action

Every time one of these tragic events happen we need to be sure all of our local,state and federal elected officials read it. The education community also needs to see it. It needs to be part of the justification for all positive autism related legislation. If we are going to collaboratively be effective advocates we must be consistently having legislation introduced and passed at the state level. Sadly, I think we can count on one hand the number of autism advocates who have, at the grass roots level, written and had autism legislation introduced.

Media Scholar

I knew the doctor personally
----------------------
So what happened? What are the facts at hand?

mlinn

Thank you so much for writing this LJ. Maybe this warrior is way too jaded and hardened by this war (going on 16 years) but my reaction to these stories is always the same. Understanding and empathy is all I feel for these moms, and of course some sadness (even for the ones who don't kill themselves). The sadness is for the situation that led them to the end point, the tragedy and horrible world they were living in to feel so alone, helpless, and desperate. I know that world and it is filled with pain and suffering. I could never judge anyone for wanting to leave it and deciding to do so. I save my judgement for those who created this hell on earth called autism. May the doctor and her son finally rest in peace.

oneVoice

This is a real tragedy,marriage break down,difficulties at
work,lonely parenting,working in a demanding profession,
providing 7 day/24 hour care to a high need child.Seeing
the pain and the abuse and the suffering your child goes
through,can break the mother's heart.As a professional
she may noticed that the system constantly fails our children.The treatments are nothing more but merry-go -arounds of different medications.Lot of the mothers just give and give and give until they can not give anymore,then darkness,hopelessness and loneliness hits them and then
tragedy happens.She felt this is the best solution and all pain ends. This is why families and friends and neighbours must reconnect and support each other.To reach out to these hard working mothers and provide a good word,a casserole,
a break,some support,some freedom (to get away and re-charge)to prevent these tragedies.

Jude

Bottom line, the murder of this innocent autistic boy is because his mother, the murderer, was completely and utterly SELFISH. If this child were NOT on the spectrum, and if he were killed by his mother, there would be much more outrage displayed here. Instead the prevailing attitude seems to be that 'no one listened to poor poor warrier mother MARGARET who had it so terribly bad because you know that autism is just a so very very very bad ugly terrible no good thing and WE HATE IT'.

The woman KILLED HER AUTISTIC SON WHO DIDN'T DESERVE TO DIE because She Hated Autism. No doubt she knew she would have much support for this final solution to HER problem.

Angie

Sandy Thomas, I am sorry to hear of your personal loss. I may not have known her personally but I can easily imagine what her life was like, what her struggles were, and the living he'll she must have lived tryi to find help for her son, be it educational help or medical help...because I, as do many many many of the readers here do too!

The article, I felt, as a loving and caring mother to kids wih Autism (like your friend) was spot on about how we feel u supported in the educational, therapeutic, medical world....I couldn't imagine though what it would feel like being a professional within your friends profession and also feeling certain my child was suffering medically, but being around others in my own profession who might then treat you or see you as different or weird or whatever for thinking those things, like a possible PANDAS/Strep infection ..,.as a parent with a (before autism career) outside of the medical community, I have only experienced this looking down from the medical community, I am not sure how I would feel, probably even worse and more alone if my Cooke he's who I worked with and respected felt I was whacko or even felt disrespected from them....ya know?

Surely, no one except the person who commutes suicide will ever know the truth, and obviously usually family and close friends k ow MUCH MUCH MORE than what would be reported in I. The media..so NONE of us are trying to say we KNOW FOR A FACT what your friend went thru or didn't go thru.,,all we can do is share this tragedy within our community and share what we have experienced, not just for the sake of "reporting" but trying to help each other thru the loneliness and help to try to prevent future situations like that of your friend and the other sad stories of parent/child murder/suicides within the Autism community which are becoming sadly too common the last few years, more and more as kids are getting older where even the already way too little support becomes even worse once the kids with Autism get older and have even LESS SUPPORTS in place...

I do NOT mean this at all mean spirited at all, but it's virtually IMPOSSIBLE to understand unless you yourself are a Mom to someone on the Autism Spectrum, especially those of our kids who are a boat full of medical problems.....
..so I imagine that despite you being close to her, it's probably more likely that us parents here probably can understand what she went thru more than someone without the same things going on in their own homes...

And, if you have further information at you feel would add more light and understanding to this tragedy, we would really appreciate it so that we, as Autism parents in similar situations, could learn and understand something's and maybe it might prevent one of us, or a future reader some insight and help prevent another tragedy like your friends....

As far as this article being a political agenda....don't you think protecting and supporting kids like Ben and Moms like your friend SHOULD BE A POLITICAL AGENDA? So that others like them are NOT LEFT to suffer in silence? I think maybe you could help by explaining what you mean by that ..especially because e majority of us here all felt that this article really gives families like ours a voice, that it was written to help explain our issues and lack of supports, and lonliness....that for me, I k ow it hit the nail right on the head..and that sure we have lots of "loving family" and lots of "caring friends" but like this article states,they really have NO CLUE and instead of being supportive, they are actualy sometimes even cuaising further desperation and loneliness, when trying to care and support..,

Again, sorry for your loss...for families like ours here at Age of Autism, this article speaks the truth..and please if you it doesn't we would love to learn why, because of course we only get what we know from our own experiences and what was probably very under reported on in the media about your friends...so any info you can shed light on (respectfully and not of course gossipy) so you can help prevent future tragedies within our Autism community, I am sure your friend would be proud that you did...

Angie
Warrior Mom to two great boys with Autism and a little girl who admires her older brothers regardless!

Lin Wessels

Thank you for putting out there what needs to be told and direly needs to be heeded. You are an amazing mom and advocate, L.J. You give a voice to so many of the voiceless. Thank you.

Madvocate

"Just my speculation, maybe she realized that the drugs she was trained by pharma to use to "treat" her beloved child created some of the hell he was in."

Maybe she took some of those psych drugs herself. They played a role in 16 school shootings. Check out these SSRI stories: http://ssristories.com/index.php

Eva Riley

This happened a year or two ago in my hometown as well, Edmonton, Alberta. A father was reaching out to the "system" and wasn't receiving enough help. Horrible tragedies that could be avoided if there was more available support. There just isn't enough. This article was a real eye opener. Thank you for sharing!

Birgit Calhoun

Very well put! Furthermore, when you present your child to a doctor the doctor won't really look at the child. The doctor will not investigate any claims that a mother makes about a condition that arises. The child is autistic; he/she apparently never gets sick; an autistic child does not have kidney disease; an autistic child does not have vitamin deficiencies from malabsorption. Even if the symptoms are plain, an autistic child never has pink disease. Doctors won't recognize it and instead prescribe cortisone cream for the rash.

Managing Editor

Sandy, I'm sorry for your loss. The murder suicide is directly related to the overpowering difficulties of autism. We are a site that discusses all aspects of autism. And every murder and/or suicide - your friend is neither the first or last - is news worthy and an important topic of discussion for our community. We're about trying to PREVENT these tragedies - because the majority of us walk the same walk as your friend every day. If you choose to call that a political agenda, so be it. We call it trying to survive day to day. Thank you for commenting.

Sandy Thomas

This article is garbage! I knew the doctor personally and would have to say that the ranting of L.J. Goes has little to do with the facts at hand but more about the writer's political agenda. The writer has gone far off base and tries to tie a major story in regarding murder-suicide to other world-wide concerns. I am not sure there is a justified basis for doing so.

Lisa crognale

My son, who has severe autism, was also treated for brain cancer. The cancer was honestly a walk in the park compared to treating and living with his autism. We had a compassionate team of cancer specialists supporting us the entire year of treatment. Our oncologist, while he was in active treatment was easy to reach, and they all answered every question we had. We had full financial support- we didn't pay a penny due to a special fund ( that generates over 14 million dollars per year).

Now that he is considered cancer free I have a total different response from his oncologist. Can you imagine an already neurologically impaired brain receiving full brain and spine irradiation? Well my sons brain did, and he has many treatment effects that we have questions about. Now I am told any of these behaviors I am questioning surely are " just" his autism and I need to relax. It's painful to have this same physician whose praises I once sang, turn into someone so different as she now perceives any physical symptoms as " just autism".

Richard Everts

My wife and I were discussing this issue recently and wondered if anyone knows of a web based compilation of all the murder suicides and wandering deaths in the autism community the last 10 years?

If not, our Foundation would like to set one up. Could anyone please let me know more information. You can email me at info@usofautism.com

Thanks.

http://www.tommyland.org/
http://www.usofautism.com/

KFuller

Just my speculation, maybe she realized that the drugs she was trained by pharma to use to "treat" her beloved child created some of the hell he was in. Is it only us who look at this and think, A professional so frightened for her child's future she saw no way out. Guilt plus Autism...a deadly pair.

Dan E. Burns - The Autism Trust USA

Wow!

asd Mommy

While reading this I cried....I felt like I have a voice. I literally couldn't express how I feel every moment of the day (and night) myself.
We have all been there before.....G-d Bless Margaret and her son Benjamin.

Deb in IL

Re: No one is listening... The parents are. People who have known me forever are seeing my Nate, they see what I do, I explain what's going on with detail and state it as a fact. They are the ones who matter, not the doctors or experts. The people/parents are no longer trusting the news, experts, business, government, any kind of authority figure. Why? Because they all lie to us to keep their power.
We have the power. We have to realize that by taking our decisions back - health, money, family - we are owning it and will be more successful than others. THIS will speak louder than anyone who follows what their doctor tells them, follows the government recommendations, etc.

Keep on talking, yelling, screaming, writing, praying and whatever other communication abilities you have - we are reaching those who matter - the decision makers of the kids' health.

Teresa Conrick

As a divorced parent of a very affected eighteen-year-old,I enter each day with autism in my thoughts. I don't think I am any stronger than this mother or any others but I do feel, like Gatogorra, that there is a good chance of medications or drugs being a big piece of these tragedies.

With autism, past, present and future thoughts and worries are always on your mind. The fact that Dr. Margaret Ferne Jensvold was in the field that promotes pharmaceuticals for stress and emotional support, raises the potential of use and ..... side-effects. Either way, the profound sense of despair and using death as a solution --- tragic.

Sarah Jane Alleman

The story of the murder/suicide reduced me to a puddle, and I SOBBED at the desperation that mother felt. I SOBBED harder when I glanced briefly at the comments on the original article I read. The hatred. The ignorance. The judgments. I have a PANDAS cub that I would protect as fiercely as any Mama Bear (even as he is recovering...whatever that means because mostly I fear any stray germ can cause an exacerbation and put us back in that dark place of PANDAS hell). I hear and read the stories of my Warrior Mother friends, and my heart literally breaks. And I know I will fight just as desperately to help these dear souls. LJ you talked about offending the reader by ranking autism alongside cancer and such. I feel that we're not offending enough people and making them OPEN THEIR EYES to what is happening. I often wish that I didn't have the knowledge that I have. That I hadn't experienced what I have experienced with my son's illness. That it was anybody but me. BUT, I know that because it's me that I will not rest until I can help more people not experience what I've gone through. I won't rest until more people know what I know. And I can't make people listen while I talk and talk and talk about these things and how the sky really IS falling. But I can plant the seed and make them aware and help them be more compassionate. And I will be hear when they are ready to listen. I have to hope that it's not because people don't care and that it's just that they don't know...yet. All my best to you and yours!

Maurine Meleck

Thanks, Lisa. You expressed it so well. If only those outside our choir would take it to heart. "Are you there, world?" It's me, Maurine.

JHouston

I agree with Alison. The people at AofA always give me something to think on. The uneasiness as I think, "This couldn't be us, could it?". Alison is right. There but for the Grace of God...

Managing Editor

I wrote about the spate of murders and murder/suicides in the autism community a couple of years ago for my book. It seems when the parent kills him/herself, they evoke empathy and a scintilla of understanding. When the parent does NOT kill him/herself (Gigi Jordan, Dr. McCarron for example) they suffer far more revulsion and derision from the community.

I noted that some of the murders seemed like desperate acts - shooting is at least mercifully quick. Others, like Jordan stuffing her son with pills until he seized to death or McCarron putting a plastic bag over her youngster's head and suffocating her to death feel FAR MORE ANGRY than desperate. The evoke no sympathy in me because of their brutality.

Kelly Dunham

I cringe to think of the scores of parents who came before this mother, those who have also chosen the same route. I'm saddened even more to think how many more will follow. LJ hits the nail on the head here...mainstream media only focuses on the "downtrodden and obviously over-stressed mother of an autistic child" role...(emphasis and eyeroll on 'autistic child' phrase included at no extra cost). In a better and perfect world, our media and the medical communities would focus on the sadness of a mother for thinking 'that surely..death would be a better option for my son than to be alive in this world' and stand up to take responsibility...but then again, in a better and perfect world.... This mom does not deserve condemnation, but empathy.

Managing Editor

JulieC - more families WILL end up like this as kids age into adulthood, parents grow older and sicker themselves and the America political landscape slips further into "do nothing for anyone not at the top." It's a grim picture.

Donna L.

I was afraid this was going to be one of those "How could this have happened?" pieces. Quite the opposite, thank goodness. I view situations like these as being similar to situations in which combat soldiers 'snap'. Like war, autism can be hell. Pure hell. And anyone who doesn't understand this just hasn't hit their breaking point...yet.

Gatogorra

Thank you, Lisa. What you wrote reminds me of a passage I read in a book about artists surviving under Stalin during the purges in the Soviet Union. Some would inform on each other, others toed a certain line but kept ther integrity. The fear ate away at many. A famous composer contemplated suicide, but his friend viewed it as simply the adult version of a child's escape fantasy-- the wish to simply "disappear" magically; meaning, to make the problems and the terror disappear.

Slaves under slavery, anyone under subjugation sometimes have these thoughts, "I'm gonna lay me down and die". It's pretty ridiculous to call this a "depressive illness" when it's clearly despair and stress, an understandable response to circumstances. The vast majority of people never act on their thoughts of woe, their escape fantasies. What makes it a "depressive illness" to pharma funded psychiatrists is simply denial of those hardships or, worse, some cockamamie, fatalistic crap dictating that misfortune is genetic (don't laugh: a 1989 Time mag article declared-- get this-- that poverty was genetic), because the theory justifies withdrawal of social supports which in turn herds individuals towards one remaining solution for what ails them: pharma drugs. It's a self fulfilling prophesy, since the drugs carry a 40 fold risk of violence and suicide even over individuals with the same "conditions" (states of mind) who are not exposed to the drugs.

I recently heard from the activist who busted Eli Lilly for withholding data on a dangerous drug and was one of the people who got Grassley involved in investigating pharma marketing fraud. He said Jensvold's murder-suicide had all the earmarks of medication madness. She was in a field in which 80% "take their own medicine". The act seemed out of character (no history of calls to police for child abuse, etc.; she'd also been a proactive person seemingly willing to stand up for herself).

It sounds like she resisted this route as much as she could-- viewing normal human response to outrageous circumstances as diseases (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-human-condition-stop-messing-with-my-mind-1161739.html ): "When Margaret Jensvold complained about sexual harassment at work she was packed off to a psychiatrist to discover what on earth could be wrong with her. Back came the diagnosis that she was suffering from Self- Defeating Personality Disorder, a condition where the female sufferers opt for careers or relationships that are likely to disappoint. Or put another way, she, and women in general, are responsible for their own victimisation.

Jensvold rejected the mumbo jumbo diagnosis, sued her employers (who happened, ironically, to be the American National Institute for Mental Health) for sexual discrimination and won, and SDPD is now no longer a formal diagnosis."


But, as we all know, it can be pretty damned dark in autism and unless you're solid in your knowledge that there's no "quick fix", the idea of fast relief to one of those "autism world specials"-- thumping, thudding spate of emotional angst with a dash of burning humiliation and isolation, all in a thick broth of horror, guilt and helplessness as you watch your child suffer and suffer-- could be like a siren song, "Just take the damn pills and stop moaning".

The recent study showing increased risk of autism in the offspring of mothers who took SSRI antidepressants in the first trimester may not have shown cause of autism per se, but it could "saw down" the same pathways, acting as a facilitator to subsequent toxic exposure: antidepressants, like most psychiatric drugs, are acute mito toxins. It may also indicate that the same toxic susceptibility to the causes of autism may be a factor in the 6 to 8% of adults who will become manic or psychotic on antidepressants-- meaning if you carry familial genetic susceptibility to one set of toxins (vaccines, atmospheric heavy metals, etc.), you may be susceptible to another (mito toxic drugs, pesticides, etc.). I have read that the mechanism behind drug induced dementia and psychosis (akathesia) is essentially mitochondrial.

Many "mental health" drugs carry black box warnings for violence and suicide, though most drug company reports and prescribing doctors still struggle to tamp down the seriousness of the risks. It isn't just autism parents killing themselves and their children. The reports would make it seem so, but since the advent of blockbuster antidepressants, parents of neurotypical children from surprisingly affluent backgrounds are killing their children and themselves at record rates. There's been a 100% rise in filicides since 1970, mostly of older children (making it clear that most cases are not parents being blamed for vaccine-induced SIDS).

Jensvold, as someone who had battled the NIMH, was rather well known in the whistleblower world, but she was still a biopsychiatrist who perhaps believed in the power of drugs when all else fails. She might have believed that they acted like "insulin for diabetes", which is the tagline of drug companies. A large percentage of psychiatrists take the meds themselves and may feel compelled-- like reports showed for a large percentage of drug reps-- not to be hypocritical and to medicate their own children. Also, within the field of psychiatry, one can imagine it's frowned upon to show up for work with shaking hands and darting eyes-- signs of going through your bouts of stress and sadness the old fashioned way-- au naturel, without chemical dressings.

This is not to take away from the fact that what could drive otherwise stand-up people to reach for the pills in the first place are dire, unbearable circumstances. We can thank the reign of child maiming and PR bullshit for that-- the same things which drove artists under Stalin to cringe in waning hope and growing fear in their freezing hovels as their colleagues were ratted out and carted off to the camps or made to disappear. Only it's our kids disappearing in the updated version.

The only thing I can think of to do is to resist the Koolaid in every form, whether it's the idea of being silent and taking our knocks, believing that any of this was fate. That seemed to be the object lesson from the first part of Jensvold's story. But the last part of Jensvold's story was not an option, though I believe that, in her right mind, Jensvold would not have thought so either. I deeply suspect that something chemical pushed her over the edge and it wasn't her own naturally skewed brain chemicals but the stuff shot into her kid to make him sick to begin with and the stuff she might have reached for when it got to much. I won't be taking pharma pills to resolve my stress and horror over my pharma-injured children. I'll be taking it to the streets-- the part Jensvold, in her right mind, was right about and left as her positive legacy.

JulieC

Thank you for this excellent article. The inevitable self-righteous outrage toward the offending parent after these stories has always left me uneasy. I always feel like there but for the grace of God go I. Not saying I condone it but I surely understand how someone could get there. It makes us feel better if there was some "defect" in the parent but honestly as LJ so eloquently points out given the complete lack of meaningful services and supports available for our kids it is a wonder more families don't end up like this.

Alison MacNeil

LJ thank you for finding a way to talk about this mother's decision without condemning her. Of course her child deserved to live, but I get how dark this mom's thinking may have gotten when she made the choice to kill both of them. You describe the insane physical and psychological burdens we asd parents carry perfectly. Everyone has a breaking point. She hit hers. Unable to imagine anyone would protect her son as she had, she takes him with her. I hurt for both of them and say "there but for the grace of God go I". Thank you.

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