We MUST Do Better: Autism, Tragedy, and Transition to Adulthood

I don't know if you saw yesterday's horrible, tragic news about the Sunnnyvale mother who killed her 22 year old autistic son and then herself. It's awful. It should never have happened. It is never OK to kill a child, there are no excuses for doing so, not even the caregiver fatigue and desperation that every news story I've read is citing.

However, as the media insists on covering this solely as an issue of autism and caregiver fatigue, I will address that issue as well -- and say that there was a lot more than autism and caregiver isolation going on. They were a family that needed more support than they were getting.

I'm sure the details will come out in the media eventually. What you need to know now -- whether you're part of the autism communities or not -- is that the family did not have enough options when their son transitioned out of school -- Leo's school, as it happens, where every last member of the community is devastated and reeling. Where the son was a cherished student for many years.

The son was welcome to transition to Leo's school's adult program, but, as reported in the news, his mother didn't feel it was the right option for him. However she was also not able to find other options. And that, the media is insisting, was likely a catalyst in an already unstable situation.

We need to find better options for young adults with autism and developmental disabilities as they transition out of school and into .... where? We need structure, options, policy ... and to ensure that all our kids have options when their yellow school buses stop showing up.

Ironically, yesterday was a banner day on the internet for discussing school to adulthood transition options. I recommend reading the following articles (three from yesterday, one from a couple of weeks ago) and then let's talk about what the hell we can DO to support all our kids in the transition to their own version of successful adulthood:

Charlotte Moore talking about school to adulthood transition, on the YouTube channel for Ambitious about Autism:


  1. I have been thinking about you and JA all morning since I saw this story. My heart aches for everyone that knew the young man and for the pain you must be feeling.

    So many parents get caught in the trap of thinking they can put off thinking about adulthood or transitions until shortly before they arrive. When I brought up the subject the other day, my own husband said "Oh, we don't have to worry about that yet; we've got lots of time." No, we don't.

    Thank you for the links and the information. I'm going to make sure I share them with my husband as well as all my internet friends!

  2. it's so, so sad. and it is incredibly difficult to find the right supports. even being in the system and even having some background in working through the system, i have hit all kinds of roadblocks in finding appropriate care for M and he is only 3. my heart aches for that family, and for all that knew and loved them. sending you and the man's school thoughts of peace during this time.

  3. Anonymous7:30 PM

    Please revise this article. It may take you years of research to do so correctly, and I know you do the best you can, but there is some false information here. Let us all remember that this just happened, and no one knows the victim in question's experience throughout the years.

  4. I just heard about this on another blog. It's so awful!

    I also just finished previewing a book that mostly discussed the lack of job training and job placement programs for young adults on the spectrum. It was a fantastic book that I'm going to be reviewing on my blog in the upcoming days.

    More definitely needs to be done!

  5. I am so sorry. This is heartbreaking. Something similar happened in my community last year. Horrifying for so very many reasons. I'm so sorry for your and your community's loss.

  6. Thanks for writing about this important issue. Monday, March 12th,9 a. m. EST The Coffee Klatch Tweetchat guest joining Lorna is Beth Burt, one of the 3 authors of Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom and More Behavior Solutions In and Beyond the Inclusive Classroom. Beth is mom to 2 kids with special needs. Tweetchat Topic: Transition issues getting ready NOW for college and employment...what needs to be done. Please join us and share what you think should be available for our youth and their families. To join Tweetchat chatroom go to http://t.co/wlTvGk0 Sign In - put TCK in the hashtag box then click Authorize App - thats it you're in #tck .


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