On April 2nd, 2014, (Autism Awareness Day), Angie Robinson, 40, and her 16-year old
severely-autistic son, Robert, were found dead in their British Columbia home. Police say it was a
murder-suicide. Apparently, at her wits end over inadequate services,
and after hearing no residential placements were available for her son, Angie decided
murdering her son and killing herself was the only way out of the pain.
Some ask, "Why did she kill her son?" How selfish! She could've dumped him off at the hospital, right? She could've given him up to social services, right? Before you judge her, consider it's possible she planned on only
killing herself. Perhaps the torment of knowing how her son was neglected by agencies funded to help her and her son, and the broken record in her head playing the song, "There are no residential placements for your son...." may have tormented her. Where would he go? There is no home for him. Hospitals can't help him. Social services aren't helping. Nobody has any answers, even those paid to have answers. Even those promising and paid funds to come up with answers...what now? What now? She was exhausted.
Knowing nobody would help him. And that they inept people who would take over his care would only isolate, drug and shackle him. One can only imagine the confusion, distress and chronic emotional pain she was in. Hopelessness, exhaustion and frustration. Unless you have lived in this type of situation you wouldn't know. You wouldn't understand the etiologies involved in her terrible decision. And yes, it is terrible. But have some damn compassion. Put yourselves in her shoes.
If only to reverse time. Give her a hug. Tell her, "No, Angie. Killing yourself and your child is not the answer.
Keep fighting! There is light at the end of this battle. Don't give up! Stay strong!"
Would that have been enough? Who failed this woman and her autistic son? Who was getting paid, who was getting funds, who was not doing their damn job? Who was in charge of neglecting to provide this woman's autistic son the help he so desperately needed? What cubicle dwelling dipshit sat on their ass for years, reading their Facebook page and chatting with co-workers, while this woman and her son were suffering in ways that none of these idiots addressed?
Why wasn't Angie getting respite or behavioral support for her son? Who was her son's social worker? Did they help? Did they even notice? Or were they too busy filling out forms. Pretending they were doing something.
Was the mom sleep deprived? Severely-depressed? Isolated? How many times had she begged for help?
Why wasn't there a residential treatment home available? How much
funding was in place for autistic teens like Robert? How long did she cry out to the people she believed were there to help, but only heard,
"Sorry, no help for your son is available." Not even the medical professionals at the hospital did much, Here try some Ativan.....A lot of Ativan. Take some for yourself. Give some to your kid. Take care now, bye bye, sign here please.
There were signs things were going down hill fast......
In March of this year, Robert smashed his head through the window of Angie's truck.
Imagine how seeing your son do this would fracture your heart and mind. Your child just bashed his own head through your car window. You are all alone in the car. There is no behavioral support person on board. No caregiver to help. You've got to keep your hands on the wheel, while he's bashing his head on the window.....shit, is there a place to pull over, I'm on the damn freeway....yep, those are scenarios that happen daily in the lives of some people raising severely autistic teens and adults, but you won't hear about it, until it's too late, because the people in charge of documenting these serious incidents, cover it all up, so they don't have to do anything.
There is no end to this madness.
How DESPERATE for adequate help would you be at this point? How hard would
you try and get help? Angie asked for help. And asked again. She didn't get it.
Angie tried again. Robert spent time in the hospital. Hospitalized and tranquilized. Ativan,
to be specific. WTF? Ativan is the WRONG medication to treat challenging behaviors in autism.
Ativan is toxic to the autistic brain during a behavioral crisis. It has a paradoxical effect.
In treating aberrant autistic behavior. Ativan is a RESCUE medication for SEIZURES only.
You do NOT use Ativan to treat the autistic person having a behavioral meltdown. You would only give ATIVAN if the person had one of the rarer types of epilepsy that triggered behaviors. Usually, behavioral outbursts are rooted in frontal lobe seizure activity, but it's complicated, because different seizures can also make the autistic person calmer. Only comprehensive neurological testing can determine which types of seizures are involved, and this is almost never done unless you fight for it, like you have to fight for everything when you have a severely autistic child.
Apparently, Robert was given a copious amount of Ativan at the hospital. Upon release, his
mother given tons of Ativan to control Robert at home. It didn't help. She lost hope.
While I'm not a fan of anti-psychotics, given my autistic son had bad reactions to many
(an oculogyric crisis and torticollis), you can give an anti-psychotic if you piggy-
back it with Cogentin. And don't overuse it. Use as a rescue medication only, if possible.
Seroquel, Risperdal with galantamine (4mg BID) are much better alternatives for an autistic behavioral crisis. You must stabilize the brain, not the body. Heal the acute crisis in the brain= reduce the behavior. Likewise, rule out UNDERLYING, UNDETECTED
medical issues. Was Robert in pain? Surely, smashing your head through a truck window
would warrant at least a CT scan of the head. Was it done? How about an fMRI?
I mean, if Robert was already loaded up with Ativan, you'd think at this point, what
the heck, he's already in the hospital. Let's do some flipping tests. Were tests done? Or was he
simply given, like so many autistic people in crisis, a quick fix chemical lobotomy, so he could be discharged and sent away to be someone else's burden? So much for carry the burden of others....
It's a win/win situation when an autistic person with challenging self-abusive
behaviors receives adequate behavioral, medical and social services.
Ignoring their complex needs is negligent. Ignoring the parent's cries for help is cruel.
Pretending there is a budget crisis is a con job.
Having Autism Awareness Month in the absence of awaken awareness is ridiculous.
Families raising severely-autistic children, teens and adults need relief. Trusted, trained
caregivers. Safe group homes. An UPDATED global medical standard of care for autistic patients with severe behavioral issues. And yes, we need effective, safe pharmaceutical drugs to target specific brain
receptors involved in autism and self-injurious behavior. Improved ABA for autistic adults.
And so we have......
At 11:56 pm, on April 2nd, 2014, Angie Robinson wrote her last Facebook post, "More, more, more needs to be done for our teens with special needs, they are neglected. Canada needs more residential and respite care for families hoping to keep their children at home."
Raising a severely-autistic son, I can tell you supportive services DO HELP. I have fought and fought for years for adequate services. We would not have gotten them without the help of Disability Right's Attorneys. These services have helped us keep our son home. It has not been easy. And there are a lot of other crazy issues, like retaliation from the very agency we thought was there to help our son.... we've had to face, but overall, adequate services save lives. We got doctors to write letter's of support. We collected evidence to support our son's level of care. You must keep fighting. This is a spiritual war as much as it is a physical one, which may sound strange to those who don't understand this, but if you don't, then think of your "fantasy movies" where good vs evil is always in play. Autistic people are special people, no matter how many issues they have. They are here to TEACH us love, tolerance and patience. They are here to teach us to HELP others and go beyond thinking only of our own goals, dreams and visions. Jesus sacrificed Himself for the whole world, the least we can do is sacrifice some of our own selfish needs to help those who are in pain and crisis.....if these agencies getting funds to help the disabled aren't willing to do this, and are going to continue making excuses, blaming the fake, manufactured budget crisis, etc...then they should find another profession. Quit lying to the world about what you are doing for the disabled, when we all see, every year, more and more families struggling to get the services they need for their severely autistic children.
Rest in peace Angie and Robert, in your new home, may your lives never be forgotten..............may the angels of
heaven carry your souls to the throne of God and wipe away every tear.......
Sources: Erika Tucker, Global News