Autism is on the rise, and now affects 1 in every 68 children in the United States. It appears in varying stages, leaving children in different capacities from highly functioning to barely functioning. For a parent, it can be an overwhelming diagnosis. But autism in a child should not be considered a seal of fate ending poorly.
Most public schools have special programs for children diagnosed with autism. These programs are specifically designed to help these children function in society. Highly functioning children are generally placed in mainstream classes with the other students.
The stigma surrounding autism is awful. It causes actions like what you’re about to read.
Feeling Overwhelmed By Autism
In an incident that occurred on March 12, Maryland mother Kristina Petrie, 46, tried to “save” society from her child, who has autism. Fearing that her son would become a “burden on society” she attempted to saw off the head of her 11-year-old son. With a bow saw.
“…Returned home from school to find his younger brother crying on the family sofa. His mother, Petrie, was nearby, bouncing in between bouts of laughter and tears.
The 11-year-old boy went upstairs to play video games. A short while later, Petrie reportedly appeared with a bow saw in hand, inquiring as to why her 11-year-old was not doing his homework.”
He tried to run. She chased him. She was able to pin him down and managed to pull the bow saw across his neck several times. He wrestled the saw from her and was able to run away.
A neighbor assisted the boy, and Petrie’s husband, Andrew Petrie, arrived at the house.
Not The First Time
According to police, Andrew Petrie took his wife to Montgomery General Hospital. She reportedly told a hospital employee that “she felt overwhelmed and that she was not doing enough to help her children with their autism,” and that she “did not want her children to grow up to be a burden to society.”
She also made a statement at some point that this was not the first time she had attempted to kill her children.
Three days after the incident, police took photographs of the boy’s neck, where they noted:
“Several thin lines with the skin broken and some scabbing.”
The boy also had cuts on his left shoulder, left hand, and red marks on his back.
While Petrie’s attorney, Sharon Diamant, claims that she had “absolutely no intent” to harm her children, the admissions of guilt expressed in front of hospital staff are going to be difficult to defend. Petrie will be back in court on April 20. Perhaps there will be additional information released that will help us understand Petrie’s behavior.
Or maybe we never will.
Arm Yourself with Knowledge – A Simple Plea
If you are the parent of a child diagnosed with autism, please arm yourself with knowledge. There is a plethora of information available with a few simple clicks of your mouse. There are support groups on Facebook and in many local communities. Autism is never insurmountable, even in the most extreme cases.
A diagnosis of autism certainly shouldn’t be a death sentence for any child. Society can handle the burden.
Featured image from Montgomery County Police Department via WJLA News.