Parents respond to mother who killed her autistic children

On the blogosphere and TV, parents are offering insight as to why Saiqa Akhter snapped and killed her two autistic children because she wanted “normal kids,” according to a 911 call where she confessed to the murders. However, none of them are excusing her actions.

The consensus was Akhter went that far because she didn’t have a support network to help raise her kids with a disability that sometimes leaves autistic people stuck with the behaviors of a toddler. The trials of raising autistic people are no secret if you’ve even remotely followed coverage. Raising children period is a challenge with all the variables out there. Akhter’s family said she suffered from depression and other mental illnesses. Whether that can be verified or not is unclear, and we won’t know if a support network would have prevented Akhter from killing her kids either. What we do learn based on the aggregate of responses is parenting can be a frustrating and lonely experience when autism is added to the equation because a lack of understanding still remains in mainstream society.

The power of social media is clear, as it has been for several years. While user-generated content is criticized for accelerating political fragmentation and filling the Internet with nothing but clutter, it’s also useful for giving anyone surfing the web insight to things that would otherwise be unobtainable. While I recommend caution about user-generated content because such information could be tainted by personal opinions or lack of evidence, they can include resources to assist others.

Whatever the blogosphere holds, it’s clear many are breaking down the Akhter case, which could be a useful learning tool for people inside the autism community and reporters looking for insights to cover.

Mike Peden on FacebookMike Peden on GoogleMike Peden on TwitterMike Peden on Wordpress
Mike Peden
Mike Peden brings a rarely discussed perspective on autism news: he was diagnosed with the disability in 1991. His explorations on autism led to an Alliance for Community Media Hometown Video Award in 2008 in the Documentary - Public Awareness category, and he currently deciphers evolving trends in autism coverage.
Mike Peden

Mike Peden

Mike Peden brings a rarely discussed perspective on autism news: he was diagnosed with the disability in 1991. His explorations on autism led to an Alliance for Community Media Hometown Video Award in 2008 in the Documentary - Public Awareness category, and he currently deciphers evolving trends in autism coverage.

0 thoughts on “Parents respond to mother who killed her autistic children

  • August 14, 2010 at 3:06 pm
    Permalink

    @L0v3_byt3z@xanga – You are totally right on this. In my case I am mostly idealist despite currently taking a degree and having quite a few major mishaps in my life, but that is also the very reason a few people said that I am able to bring revolution. This perhaps being the effect of having a mind of 30 years old, body of 20 and heart of 10.

    My parents actual intention is more like: Be realistic if you want to be safe. This is primarily due to the fact that when I was small my ambitions can be changed within matter of hours while other children might take months or even years to change. Even now I can’t be totally sure of what is my primary goals between being a lecturer, a government servant or a full time web fiction author. Of course my parents would be worried. Add this with  poor social and financial skills, prone to problematic situations, being untypical in almost everything (which they always scold “no one acts/think like you!”) and naivety they would definitely worry about me a lot.

    Reply
  • August 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm
    Permalink

    @Murazrai@xanga – I understand and agree with what you are saying. I stand strong with my opinion that parents should always encourage their kids to reach for the skies and do what they love. I’m 18 years old now, more of a realist now that I’m older and more mature. But when it comes to children, they are idealistic and are big dreamers. I wouldn’t want to crush their dreams, you know? Let them grow up and realize on their own what they are capable of accomplishing. And I’m sure your parents intentions weren’t as such, and there are infinite viewpoints on parenting.

    Reply
  • August 14, 2010 at 2:06 pm
    Permalink

    @Operation_Carefree@xanga – 

    Feeling sympathetic for what she may have gone through is not the same as condoning what she did. No one here has done that. – ZombieMom_Speaks@xanga I concurr.

    Imma tell you straight up, I think your comment was childish and rude. When you go on forums where they ask for an opinion on a touchy subject such as this one, you gotta expect responses that you don’t agree with. It’s not necessary to attack a person for their opinion – everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you don’t agree, feel free to challenge it, but don’t be condescending cuz it just makes you a bully and really, you look stupid. No one is gonna sit here and listen to what you have to say if you can’t take a moment to step outside of your comfort zone and respect what others have to say.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2010 at 10:54 am
    Permalink

    @GuRRRaNiMaL@xanga – I know people don’t say this enough, but I want to thank you for everything you do. It’s a tough job and not everyone can do it. So thank you for doing what has to be done and making the sacrifices you make every day. 

    Reply
  • August 13, 2010 at 10:22 am
    Permalink

    @GuRRRaNiMaL@xanga – I just re-read what I wrote and it sounds awful. What I was supposed to be saying but failed to communicate right was that I think murders usually happen for three reasons. War (which can obviously be for noble causes) is one way people can kill and not be “insane.” I don’t know why I put that “grew up” around death part before it. It was probably a bad choice to put it next to gangs, since the two aren’t nearly the same thing. I think what I meant was that in either case, the person has been brought up to believe that in the right circumstances, murder is justified (which is obviously way more true in cases of war than gangs – again a bad choice.)

    I respect what our service members do as my family members and classmates are putting their lives at risk for our country. I apologize for my offensive comment.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2010 at 7:46 am
    Permalink

    @hollowhopes@xanga – This is for ‘Hollowhopes’. What exacly do you mean by that? I happen to be in the military and sometimes my job requires me to do some task that you may not agree with, but who are you to say it comes from how I was raised or where I grew up? Many of the people I work with as well as myself come from all over the country where that type of issue isn’t always a problem. So just because we do the job we do means we grew up around killing and death?

    I understand that you may feel that killing and ‘murder’ is wrong. But let me ask you this, how free do you think you’d be if we didn’t do the job we did? You think you’d be able to get on that computer and blog about anything you wanted? You think you’d get up each morning without any fear of walking outside your house? What I do know, is that you obiviously never been in the situation of combat and never had to make that decision looking down the sights of a gun thinking “its me or him… my life or his”. Better yet, let me explain it like this, you never had to watch your best friends and brothers get shot and bleed to death in front of your eyes and know the person who did it doesn’t care and would love to do the same thing to everyone you know and love back home. So think hard about what us service members go through before you judge us.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2010 at 1:11 am
    Permalink

    I think until you live with such a heartbreaking disorder, you cannot fully understand what it’s like to be in this mom’s shoes.  I truly believe that she has some sort of mental disorder.  Add to that the sometimes unsurmountable stress that every parent of a child with autism has, and oh my… that’s enough to cripple any person.  I am not saying what she did is right – just the contrary.  If she had emotional or mental disorders, she needed to reach out for help… not keep it all inside.  Having said that, though, I once told a doctor I wanted to kill myself and he did nothing.  *shrug* 

    There are resources out there, but when a doctor hands you an autism diagnosis, they don’t give you a list of people/organizations to call for help.  It’s interesting, because if your child were diagnosed with cancer, you know you would be armed with referrals and support groups and the like.  But because this is a spectrum of disorders that isn’t very well understood, doctors themselves aren’t always fully trained on what to say or how to help parents… and frankly, sometimes they don’t even really care.

    FTR, I have many characteristics of Asperger’s myself, and a four year old with autism.  Try dealing with both – it gets interesting sometimes. 🙂

    Reply
  • August 13, 2010 at 12:23 am
    Permalink

    @musicmom60@xanga – Thank you so much – that’s all I was trying to say!  Autistic children are beautiful and uniquely wonderful. They are also really high maintenance. This girl will never get it unless she has one (or two). 

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 11:31 pm
    Permalink

    this is so tragic and i feel so sad for everyone involved. 🙁 certain people posting here need to realize that feeling sympathy for a person and their situation does not mean you are condoning their actions. what this woman did was awful but i can also understand the tremendous amount of stress she was under. its just an awful situation overall. 🙁

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm
    Permalink

    @ZombieMom_Speaks@xanga – I totally get where you’re coming from, having raised one autistic child and two “typical” children – unless someone has parented a child or children with a severe disability like this, 24-7, year in and year out, and truly has LIVED it (all the therapies, dr. appts, IEP’s, illnesses, violence, physical and verbal abuse the autistic child can inflict on the other children, on and on – you know…) there is no way anyone else can possibly understand the tremendous toll this can take on a family, on the parents, on the other children in the family, in terms of time, stress, finances, health of the parents and other children.. even the stress on the health of the grandparents and other family members who are trying to help.    It is just plain overwhelming, despite all the resources and support systems that may or may not be in place (some locations are better than others) and I can understand how parents would and could get physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually worn down.  It’s truly a lifelong commitment for parents; not all autistic children are able to become independent and live on their own or be self-supporting.  Not all outcomes are positive, despite the years of services and therapies and treatments.

    I absolutely do not condone this woman’s solution, obviously, but I’m just saying that I can understand how worn down she must have felt.  It’s unfortunate she didn’t feel she had any other options or any other place to turn.  Who knows what kind of help or support she was getting, or what resources were available in her community.  Obviously killing her children is a terrible solution to what she was living with, but it’s certainly no REAL solution, for her or the children.   I wish she could’ve gotten some more help.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm
    Permalink

    @Operation_Carefree@xanga – You obviously know nothing about raising a child with a disability. I have two. It’s stressful, every day. It doesn’t make it worse, but it does make things more difficult. Lots more. I raised a child without a disability before I had my two youngest and there is definitely a big difference. My daughter has behavior issues and is very aggressive. Autistics have autoimmune disorders which makes it more difficult to keep them healthy, as they tend to have more viruses, colds, susceptibility to flu, etc. and both of my children have eczema. I have IEP meetings, endless trips to doctors and for therapy, have to work with two different schools because my children can’t go to the same school since my daughter had to be taken out of the mainstream, and am being treated for anxiety.

    So don’t tell me it’s not as stressful as raising a child who doesn’t have autism or another disability. You’re completely full of shit and have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I’m not painting her in a good light at all. All I’m saying is I understand the stress and emotional hell she was experiencing.

    It’s not the worst thing in the world to have a child with autism, but having two is extremely difficult.

    You need to move on yourself, grow the hell up and learn a little about this before you try to involve yourself in a conversation about it. You clearly have no clue about what parents like us go through.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm
    Permalink

    @Erika_Steele@xanga – Yep. But in my case, I will have to sacrifice a few of my dreams for the sake of my other dreams. After all, having less dreams so that I can give full focus on them is better.

    As for that woman, I completely agree with you. Despite my parents pretty much having no more hope on me (because they expect me to create the hope on my on), but they never go beyond insults. This is an extreme version what happens in some families. I read in newspapers criticizing parents who isolate children who suffer from similar problems from society without knowing that it is better for them to be exposed as soon as possible. My parents only realized this when I finished secondary school. Perhaps my rebellious nature ensured that I am sociable, despite not in the way they want. Being “in the spectrum” never means inability of facing the world.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 11:51 am
    Permalink

    @ZombieMom_Speaks@xanga – EVERYBODY has stress in their life. Having an Autistic child doesn’t make your life any worse or better than the next person. People have harder things to deal with yet you don’t see them killing their children or other people around them now do you? It’s not a reason to have sympathy for her, having an Autistic child doesn’t make it excusable or make it okay to do it like you make it out to be. You are painting a picture of her in a good light which is wrong, you act like it’s the worst thing in the world to have a child with Autism, IT’S NOT! Move on!

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 11:14 am
    Permalink

    @Murazrai@xanga – Your parents are right.  iIt is good to have some level of cynicism and realism in your life, but those should not come at the cost of never reaching for your dreams.  If everyone decided to only be realistic and never go for their dreams, then no one would every accomplish anything great.
    __________________________________________________________________________
    I am having a hard time feeling sorry for this woman.  I understand that she may have had mental problems and I can empathize with how difficult it must be to have to deal with two children on the spectrum. I understand her family may not have been there to support her when she needed them. However, my understanding for her ends when she killed her children.  There is no excuse for killing your children ever.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 10:53 am
    Permalink

    @Operation_Carefree@xanga – It isn’t about being twisted or not, it’s about realizing that this woman was dealing with more stress than most humans are able to take (I know, because I deal with it every day and sometimes it’s almost more than I can take) and having sympathy for the circumstances that lead to this tragedy.

    Feeling sympathetic for what she may have gone through is not the same as condoning what she did. No one here has done that.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 10:37 am
    Permalink

    @animechrisy@xanga – There is no way in Hell anybody with a right mind would even feel something towards a murderer. You’re psycho so please stop talking to me. Anybody who can side with a murderer is unstable and trouble. Go get help <3

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 9:43 am
    Permalink

    @L0v3_byt3z@xanga – You are right, but as my parents said, I can’t hold onto my idealism as if it is my bible. Life isn’t ideal and people needs cynicism and realism to protect themselves from getting harm. 

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 2:40 am
    Permalink

    @Operation_Carefree@xanga – It’s good to try and understand and think about what people say instead of blindfully accusing and imposing one’s own conceptions on someone.

     I never said it’s right to feel good about it, I never said it was acceptable. I said that the people that can pity her are the ones that have perspective greater than what’s black or white and right or wrong. Unless you have that…I can make the assumtion and say, people will react in a way similar to you. (And no, I’m not being insulting.)

    But sure…I am twisted. XD.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2010 at 12:41 am
    Permalink

    wow.. this truely ruined my night!

    WTF… like seriously????? YES IT IS HARD when autism is added to the equation.. but its not the worst thing in the world. Omgosh.. i can not believe she killed her kids! That really makes me sad and mad. My brother has severe autism and we love him with all of our hearts. Omgosh yeah we have gone through a lot from dealing with it and medications and surviving.. i mean it was truely hard but my brother is the reason for my being. He has made me into a better person. I love him with all my heart.. and the children that i have met with a disability are just as precious. i really dont know what else to say.. or what to think.. just mad.. truely mad…

    wow..

    Reply
  • August 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm
    Permalink

    Although I sympathize for how lonely and helpless she probably felt, I do not agree with how she handled her situation. There’s always ways to get help out there. There are many organizations and government agencies that reach out to people who need help, many of them free of charge. There are flaws within those agencies, but I believe that they do try their best.

    I felt udder sorrow to hear about this incident, and she deserves to be punished. No parent should ever subject their children to pain or suffering, and they should do all that they can in their power to protect them.

    It’s inexcusable and unforgiveable.


    @Murazrai@xanga – Parents shouldn’t say that to their kids either… All children should be encouraged to pursue their hopes and their dreams. My mom is control-obsessed and always wanted me to do what she thought was what perfect kids should do, and that wasn’t healthy either. I hope you continued to do what you enjoyed though :]

    Reply
  • August 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm
    Permalink

    What she did is inexcusable and unforgiving, yes.

    That doesn’t mean she was crazy or weak or that she should be hated or mistreated.

    @Operation_Carefree@xanga – Showing pity, or understanding has nothing to do with what she did being acceptable. Because it isn’t. But, not showing bitterness and resentment is something that comes with perspective and mindfulness not with excuse.

    Reply
  • August 11, 2010 at 11:36 am
    Permalink

    Nobody should pity or feel bad for her. Everybody has their stresses in life it doesn’t make it okay, EVER.

    Reply
  • August 11, 2010 at 7:08 am
    Permalink

    as a severely autistic mother of a 13yr. aut.son and a 28yr. non aut. daughter i can tell u it is much MUCH harder to b autistic than a parent! because my son had a calm, safe environment he makes 3 types of movies, speaks 5 languages, can name every game system made, when it was made and what the top selling games were for each one. autistics thrive in calm safe areas with lots of daily praise, told they are loved just as they are. Tim wants to b a dr. when he’s older. in younger autistics trying to force us to act like everyone else is only going to cause undo stress on the parent and the child and behavior problems. with lots of daily positive encouragement  we will pick up coping mech. later. we can have normal lives. i’m an RN and in a long happy marriage.  my autism made me a better nurse, wife and parent. there are 2 million auts. as an aut, i know ways to fix this. if you need me, i’m here! this doesn’t have to happen.

    Reply
  • August 11, 2010 at 1:00 am
    Permalink

    I think anyone who murders someone is either brought up in a culture where it’s considered okay (like in a war situation or gang members), or they’re insane themselves. No sane person would just make the choice to murder another human, especially her own children.

    If this lady had a mental illness and was trying to raise two autistic children alone, with probably little support, education, or resources, it makes sense that she would snap. It doesn’t mean it’s okay she did, it just seems like something you could see coming.

    Part of the tragedy is that nobody detected it and intervened. If someone had realized they could’ve taken the kids to a safe environment and gotten the mom some help.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2010 at 11:43 pm
    Permalink

    You shouldn’t need a support network in order to not kill your child. I feel no pity whatsoever for this woman. She disgusts me. Raising any child is difficult, much more so with autistic children, but if you can’t put up with it there are other ways of going about it. Like adoption. People will STILL take your kids if you refuse to support them, because they can’t just let you neglect them. Or she could have put up with it.

    I somehow doubt that she killed them for being autistic, though. I feel like she’s scrounging for pity here. Maybe she’s hoping that mercy killing will someday become acceptable and she’ll get out of the consequences.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm
    Permalink

    …This is so sad.

    I actually pity the woman a tiny bit. There has to have been an extreme level of stress and emotional pain that caused her to do that. I don’t think anyone can say one’s a bad person for wanting “normal” children… I will say that, if I become a mother, I would prefer them not to be on the autism spectrum (no, I won’t give them up if they aren’t, and yes, I’ll still love them, but if I had my choice before birth… of course I’d choose the “normal” route).

    But… then again, they were still children, and it wasn’t their fault. And it is monstrous of anyone to kill children due to their own selfishness and despair.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2010 at 10:57 am
    Permalink

    Speaking as the parent of two children on the spectrum, I can honestly say I understand how overwhelmed she must have felt. Raising our children is a never-ending barrage of appointments, schedules, worry, terror and stress. Add to that the aggression and sometimes violent behavior of kids/adults on the spectrum and it becomes even more challenging. The divorce rate among the parents of kids on the spectrum is 85%, which should give everyone an idea of how stressful it is.

    Look at the eyes of the woman in the picture above and you’ll see what I mean.

    HOWEVER…she had no right to murder her children. There aren’t a lot of resources out there for parents who are feeling overwhelmed, but they do exist. A good psychologist or even a helpline might have been able to assist her had she sought them out. She did not have to hurt her children.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2010 at 2:09 am
    Permalink

    What a psycho o_O Autistic kids are just different…that doesn’t make them abnormal.

    Reply
  • August 7, 2010 at 12:52 am
    Permalink

    “Normal” children are made, not born.  No one should be killed for being difficult, or even tortuous.  At the same time, this is just another example of why communities need to network in a deeper and more consistent way, so that no person, child or adult falls through the cracks.

    Reply
  • August 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm
    Permalink

    I’m glad that my parents do not do this on me. The worst they get are merely saying that I’m of no hope of being big.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.