Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Chris Benoit

I am a person with an acquired disability. I am the parent of a child who was born with a disability. I have two points of reference about disability issues, and on occasion they collide. And collide they did about Chris Benoit's murder of his wife and their young child who had a disability.

As the parent of a child with a disability I understand the issues that face families. There is a lack of role models, finances, physical resources, educational opportunities for the parent and the child. I understand the stress families face. Sometimes parenting a child with a disability feels like Sisyphus pushing that rock uphill.

As a person with a disability, and a believer in basic civil rights for all human beings, I see it's another example of a parent getting a pass. The rational seems to be that since the child he murdered had a disability... it is a little more understandable; horrible, but understandable.

While my heart aches for the isolation and lack of supports that families face but, it is no good excuse for murder. Still, when I heard Benoit's story about having a child with a disability, I cried for the millions of families who go without the supports they need.

But, 99 44/100 percent of parents who have children with disabilities face the same or greater isolation, less income, fewer physical resources, less respite, etc, and do not murder their children.
Why is it that the murder of a child with a disability is any different than the murder of a child without one? Sometimes parenting any child feels like Sisyphus pushing that rock uphill.

It was my friend Jessica, who slapped the snot out-of, and the sense back-in to me. She walked me out of the parent place and back into my disability rights advocate place. This is murder. That smackdown frustrates me. I want to think that I always view things through an advocate's eye.

However, it does point out that a parent's view may not be in the best interest of their child, or other people with disabilities. It certainly was that way with Ashley X, and countless other decisions that parents make for their children... young and old, disabled or not.

Take a look at this dramatic difference from two views.

When I was a young mother of children with disabilities, I learned a lot from the adults with disabilities I got to know. They encouraged me to let my kids make decisions, take risks, and even to screw up BIG TIME. It is how we all learn; it was how my children learned; and just as importantly, it is how I learn. I'm glad to know that this old dog is still capable of learning.

Two Views

holly lu conant rees is the mother of a child with autism. Read her post.

Now read Dick Sobsey post on the same subject: http://www.notdeadyet.org/docs/articles/sobsey0301.html

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