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September 15, 2013

Forum: In sadness, we turn to other emotions

By Christopher Morey

Sadness is, perhaps, the most difficult emotion. Most of us would rather be almost anything than sad.

Confronted with sadness, we often try to turn it into something else; blame, anger - something directed outwards. Something actionable.

As a parent of an autistic child who was violent from the age of 6 until he was almost 17 I feel compelled, reluctantly, to say some things in response to the recent media reports about the Stapletons, and the public reaction to it.

For many years my son was very, very unhappy. On a daily basis he would destroy things, engage in life-threatening behavior or physically attack us. No one was qualified to care for him - and he could never, ever be left alone. No vacations, no breaks; no quiet weekends.

We were encouraged to put him in a home; blamed by condescending psychiatrists for not giving him more drugs; offered the hope of services that in reality did not exist. My wife had to quit working because we so often had to pull him off a school bus, or out of a classroom, and because the stress was taking her down.

Each time he attacked us we felt abject terror. Not for ourselves, but for his future. We were overwhelmed by visions of him, drugged into submission - the light gone from his eyes; rocking; staring.

There are tens of thousands of us, and we are all damaged, and we all love our children and do, in fact, sacrifice our lives for them.

Every day.

Sometimes our minds or bodies cannot keep up.

Our son is no longer violent. As he matured he learned how to work on himself, how to make himself happy. Few of us can appreciate the depth and intensity of his struggle; or the unquestioning, innocent sincerity that drives it.

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