|Robert Robinson. Photo: The StarPhoenix|
I have been too sick at heart to write about Robert's murder until now, because -- once again, and so predictably -- news outlets have framed the story around how hard things were for Robert's mother, how difficult it was for her to take care of him, and thus are perpetuating the awful message that murdering Robert was an understandable act. Once again the implication is that Robert's mother Angie, who could tell people what she was experiencing and could have walked away, was the victim; and that Robert, who relied wholly on Angie to communicate and advocate for him and who had no escape options, was ... his mother's trigger.
I am too distraught to write a full rant, because Leo practically is Robert Robinson, though a few years younger. So let me leave with you with a few critical points to cite when people side with murderers, not their autistic victims:
- An innocent autistic person was murdered. There is no defending or justifying this action.
- Loving mothers do not kill their children. If I read another story about a mother who "loved her autistic child so much" and "tried so hard" but then murdered that autistic child, I am going to throw my computer across the room.
- Lack of services need to be discussed separately. Of course autistic people need more and better services, and so do their families. But lack of services do not justify murder, and reporters need to stop writing stories that make this lazy, dangerous connection.
- We need to be aware of signs of caregiver fatigue and exhaustion. If parents are nearing the edge, that puts their kids in danger. Please be vigilant if you know a family that is showing signs of stress.
- Parents approaching crisis can walk away. Even if you believe "no one else can care for my child," it is better for your autistic child to be with someone who will not kill them.
- Behavior is communication. If an autistic child, teen, or adult is behaving in a way that appears aggressive or violent, there is likely a root issue, such as lack of communication options, illness, boredom, or sensory concerns. Please do everything you can to explore those possibilities.