DALLAS – A suburban Dallas woman accused of killing her two young children told a 911 operator that she first tried to poison them because they were autistic and she wanted “normal kids,” then choked them with a wire until they stopped moving, according to the recorded call.
…When the operator asked the woman why she attacked her children, she said, “They’re both not normal, not normal. They’re autistic. Both are autistic.” Pressed further, she said, “I don’t want my children to be like that. … I want normal kids.”Later, the dispatcher asked the woman what she was feeling. “Nothing,” she responded.
Let me first get the obvious disclaimer out of the way: it is never ok to kill your children. I can think of few instances in which it is acceptable to kill another person, family or otherwise. Such behavior should be condemned and punished.
Reading this horrific story, my heart broke for the murderer.
I can totally imagine the thought process that led this woman to strangle her own babies. I picture her slogging through years of evaluations, treatments, meltdowns, quack cures. I see her handling daily life with a child with autism as best she could, managing her son’s needs by day and crying from the stress every night, praying for a “normal” one, then enduring the heartbreak of realizing her second child was also atypical. She fears for her children’s uncertain future. She struggles with her children’s competing needs. Her marriage feels the strain. She feels overwhelmed. She feels alone. She feels responsible. She mourns the life she thinks she should have had – the typical life with typical kids and typical expectations.
Some behavior or meltdown or quirk sets her off.
The future is unfathomable. She considers suicide, but knows there would be no one left to care for her babies.
So she kills the kids.
The difference between mental illness and mental health is not the presence or absence of dangerous urges: it’s what you do with those destructive impulses. No sane person would murder her children, but I think it would be insane not to feel impulses like that sometimes.