The mother of an 8 year old autistic boy killed him and attempted to end her own life. Gigi Jordan, 49, and her son, Jordan Michael Mirra, were found in a Manhattan hotel room Saturday. It is thought that prescription pills were involved, according to DNA Info and The NY Daily News. The question: why a mother, devoted to her child would do the unthinkable? Was it an outside motivator, a breaking point, or did she believe she was keeping her son from living out a life of torment? Was the situation really that stressful?
Perspectives are relative to the person, the nature of the autism a child is living with, and certainly outside factors. Obviously, not every parent of a special needs child, autistic or otherwise, find themselves at such a turning point. Most parents who will never reach such extremes, know all that is not said. To say the life of a special needs parent is overwhelming, stressful or “trying” would be an understatement.
Many people don’t know the life nature of the special needs parent (SNP). How the things that can be overwhelming to the parent of a typical child are the “usuals” for a SNP. They have to be. There are therapists to schedule and coordinate, multiple arguments with insurance companies, paperwork for programs, school projects to complete that can take two days longer to complete than the average (if the child’s participation is even possible, leaving many parents to do the projects themselves). Proper socialization, medicines to coordinate, binders of behavior records, nutrition and medical history. Specialists to solicit, IEP’s goals to consider, research, equipment to order and fit, home therapies to integrate, doctors, doctors, doctors. Add siblings, the needs of a spouse, forget the needs of the main caregiver, and the stress is unfathomable.
Further, some parents may not even know if this is the morning they wake and their child does not. The day they’ll have to rush to the hospital, reconsider an order to resuscitate or a feeding tube insertion. Will they be able to take their child home today, after months of ‘living’ in a hospital? How many times will their child hit them, kick, bite, punch or pull their hair; and will this next medication end the child-to-parent beatings? Yes, being a SNP can be debilitating.
As parents, we all need the support and understanding that we may not ask for, but so desperately require. You may discover that this understanding comes by way of other SNP. Yahoo and Google have diagnosis-specific and general parenting groups, as does Mile High Mamas, Moms Like Me and Cafe Mom, among others. You can open or use your existing Twitter account and reach out to other SNP. You can even meet other parents in your child’s school or therapy group, or make a quick connection with the parent next to you at therapy, and the struggles are said, reinforced, supported and understood without ever being spoken.
Pointing out the importance that all parents reach out to anyone who might understand their similar plight cannot be emphasized enough for one of the most stressed groups of people in our county, state, country. Special needs parents, all parents, need hope that a day will come that is brighter than this, full of promises of possibilities. Reach out. Don’t allow the struggles to become inner tortures; turn them into a positive and support another parent by helping yourself.
Do you have an article idea, a resource or other information you’d like to share with the special needs community? Email me at GinaStAubin (at) comcast (dot) net.
First Things First-A series for special needs parents
February Parent Training Opportunities
The NY Daily News