A deadly mom, a deadly community, a deadly system and two dead children.
CNN reported that on July 22, 2010, Saiqa Akhter, 30, killed her two children by strangulation. She had initially tried to make them drink bathroom cleanser but they refused to swallow. She then informed 911 that both children were Autistic. When asked why she killed them, she coldly responded, “because they were Autistic.”
These facts weren’t as a result of a long investigation. Ahkter told the entire story in her 911 phone call. She said she wanted normal children and not Autistic children.
Her chilling call to 911 was one of the most horrifying things I have ever heard. Her children were the victims of an abandoned mother without help, resources, training or awareness. She certainly missed having her own diagnosis.
Akhter now faces two charges of capital murder of a child under 5 in the deaths of her 2-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, Dallas County district attorney spokeswoman Jamille Bradfield said.
The marital disruption rate of parents of children with Autism is between 86%-94%. Most of these kids end up with mom. The Autism battle with two adults is hard enough…but with only one, it becomes nearly impossible. Multiply that by two kids.
This was an insidious crime.
That being said…we have to ask ourselves, “who is taking care of the caregivers?’Without awareness, these parents are afraid to go out in public. The kids have melt downs and scream. They are Autistic, but they look ‘typical.’
Respite or in home services can take years if they are even available in that all. Waiting lists grow longer. Budget cuts are growing like wildfire. The most essential services for treating Autism are the ones being eliminated. On the average, Autistic children cost 5 times more to raise than typical children.
Facts and Statistics from The Autism Society:
- $60 billion annual cost.
- Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and intervention.
- In 10 years, the annual cost will be $200-400 billion.
Based upon these statistics, Early Intervention and treatment saves BILLIONS of dollars. In this case, intervention would have saved lives. So, where is it?
The system is failing to address Autism. Parents have nowhere to turn. Caregivers are hunkering down with their kids waiting for the cavalry to show up but it’s not coming.
At the very least, these children should have been in Early Intervention and Special Education programs. The family should have had a service coordinator. This mom needed help in many ways. SOMEONE should have been stepping in.
Child Protective services had worked with the family for two months in 2009. The community KNEW what was happening and obviously did not intervene with accommodating services like early interventions and kindergarten.
Being the mother of a child with Autism tends to isolate you from the world. You stop attending social functions. You stop visiting family. The experiences brought on by an Autism ignorant society make contact with the outside a daunting experience.
The many challenges that face the parents of Autistic children set them apart from the parents of every other type of disability.
Several research studies have found that mothers of children with autism have higher levels of psychological and parenting-related distress than other moms of children with developmental delays.
Care for the caregivers is even further behind then the needed services for the children. There are homebound moms who can only allow someone to step in while the kids are asleep because explaining Autism to anyone, or finding someone the children will except can become an impossible task. Early Intervention, community Autism services, special needs daycares, baby sitters with experience in Autism, or even just a friend or family member who will take the time to step in and learn your routines so you can even get to a doctor appointment would make a HUGE difference.
I believe it is safe and fair to say that is awareness and correct therapies would have been in place in Irving Texas for the Akhter family, Zain, 5, and his 2 year old sister, Faryaal would have been alive today.
Marguerite Colston, vice president of the Autism Society said, “once you get a diagnosis, you can’t be a parent, you have to be a case manger, an education specialist,” she said. “You’ve got to figure out the medical system. It’s overwhelming to think I have to advocate and navigate the system. The level of stress is terrifying.”
“Our nation doesn’t have the system to support the parents. The services are not there to match the needs.”
The following videos are my personal favorites for every reason. When you find yourself wondering how to explain Autism to family friends, co-workers and so forth, perhaps sending this video will speak for you. You will be spreading awareness.
Globally, Autism 1 in 68, with less than half of all persons screened. In 1980 it was 1 in 10,000. There now is an estimated 63 million persons with Autism. It’s time to learn.
Perhaps the next time you see a person struggling with a screaming and/ or pulling child, you should offer to help then with their groceries or unlock their car door for them.
There is no excuse for an entire community who refuses to see the signs of Autism. It was deadly for a community to fail to intervene with appropriate and accommodating services. The system failed the Akhter family.
Please watch these two videos, save them and share them OFTEN. Awareness is something we can all do right now. Let’s save our kids. Let’s care for the caregivers. No one was listening to Saiqa. Let’s take a few minutes to listen to our moms right now.
Thank you for watching, listening, learning, understanding and most importantly, sharing.
‘Care+Share=Aware.’ –C.A. Curie’