Parents Give Up Autistic Son

Parents Give Up Autistic Child

I read an article this morning about a family that gave away their 5 year old autistic son. He was on the extreme autism side of the spectrum. The parents were not getting adequate supports, and it became too much for them. A few months later, they heard that their son had been sexually assaulted by a teenager while under the state’s protection. The names of the family were changed in the article.

Reading this article brings out a lot of questions and concerns. In previous articles, I have written about mothers that have killed their autistic child. I have stated that I believe that there is no reasoning that can condone their actions. I have stated that I believe that if a parent can not care for their child, the child should be turned over to the state.

Do I still believe that after reading that article? Yes, I do. What happened to that little boy was horrible. However, I still can not believe that death is better. This is such a hard subject to write about. I prefer to write about the joys of autism, not the nightmares.

I would like to think that I would never relinquish parental rights of my child. I am blessed that my son does not have the extreme behavior issues that many autistic children possess. He is low functioning, but is a joy to be around. I don’t know what I would do if my son had the kind of behavior problems that the 5 year old above has.

It is really sad that there are parents that do not have the support they need to take care of their child. Clearly, love is not always enough. When do you decide that? How do you decide that? I don’t know this couple that surrendered their parental rights, but I feel for them. I don’t judge what they did. I can understand it, though. Some might think they are weak for giving up their child. I think that what they did would require a great deal of inner strength.

After relinquishing their rights, to turn around and find out that their child was abused after the state took over care must have been extremely difficult to come to terms with. How do you go on after that? How do you continue your day to day life? If it was me, I think all of my thoughts would be consumed by those of my child I gave up.

This is so sad. I don’t have any profound insight or advice to offer. I don’t have any answers to this situation. It is what it is. A family in crisis. A child that may be lost and abused under the state’s care. My prayers go out to them all.

38 comments to Parents Give Up Autistic Child

  • I would only consider placing my son’s in a residential school program if they became increasingly aggressive to the point of harming themselves or others. But, I would never sign over my rights as their parent…I simply cannot imagine doing that.
    Even if they were in a residential school I would still be involved in their lives on a daily basis. I know many parents who have made this same decision and it was the best for both their child and their family as a whole.
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    • Tammy

      I have considered residential placement, because there are times that I think my son needs more help than I can give him. When he is an adult, I think that I will have to find a placement for him. Right now, I just can’t see sending my son away. I know I am doing everything I can for him. He is still showing progress. Just this past weekend, he had a great breakthrough with miniature golf. As long as he continues progressing, I think that I am doing something right.

  • I am thankful each and every day that my son is high functioning on the spectrum. It’s been difficult but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have the excellent support from my son’s school! ;D
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  • This is a really sad story. Just this week, there was a 13 year old autistic boy that was stabbed by his mother. It has been on my mind how a mother could do this to their own child. Here is the link if you want to read:
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  • I can’t judge them, because I don’t have an autistic child. I can say, however, that they were lucky in that they had each other. Many single parents struggle with an autistic child, and that is even harder. I know a single mom with three children, and her twins are both autistic. She is my hero! I find my single, non-autistic child challenging at times (though I love him beyond anything).

    When you have children, there is always a risk they won’t be 100% healthy in every way. If my son were to develop autism, I would not give him up. I would not be able to sleep at night if he were not under the same roof as me. I’d rather lose my marriage than not be able to protect a child of mine, if it were to come down to it. Children are innocent and helpless, and an austistic child has NO ONE to speak on their behalf with love if their parents relinquish their rights. I’m so sad for that child, I feel very ill. He has no voice, no one who loves him unconditionally.

    I can’t judge his parents, but I couldn’t make the same choice. I can’t think of anything worse than not knowing my son is always safe and secure. I’m wondering if the parents had multiple children and could not care for them all (in which case, I hope they don’t have more children, because if they want children, but just not the imperfect ones, and try for more, then I’ll start to judge them).
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  • I’m not in this situation so I can’t really relate but the thought of letting go of my child is too much to handle. At the end of the day I reflect on the good and bad and am always grateful that I have them in my life.
    I appreciate those that care enough to give up a child rather than harm them but I don’t know if I could ever do that myself.

  • My little girl is such a sweetheart I can barely think of her leaving home, as an adult, never mind as a child. She is non-verbal and flaps a bit, but I don’t see her as difficult at all. If she was very severe and/or injurous to herself or others, I might have a different view on the situation though.

    Such a sad situation.
    Robin recently posted..Girls with Autism- Isolation Among Boys

  • Sania

    This story has been in mind all day since, I read it. I feel horrible for this little child, I can’t imagine how he feels or what is has gone through. It brings tears to my eyes! I also feel for the family that was so desperate, that they had to do this. I don’t want to judge. I just wish there was a place for children whose parents need help with their child with special needs. Some type of program that if a family qualifies they can get support-someone (qualified professional) who could come into the home for 2 hours a day. And help! This is so sad, these children need help and deserve to have a happy life.

  • This and other similar stories are heart breaking indeed. How many of these do we need to hear before we begin to provide more support and respite for these families? I believe in prevention but it is obvious that our society doesn’t. We always wait for things to get to crisis proportion and THEN, we REACT. We do not need to wait for children to be hurt, abused or murdered out of frustration before we respond. Let’s be proactive, let’s believe in prevention, let’s reach out to a family with a child on the spectrum or any family that needs support and offer some assistance, some brief respite so they can recharge and get a second breath. And better yet, let’s advocate for more services because this population of children and adults on the spectrum is growing, not receding. Parents of children on the spectrum need those who have the energy to speak out for them. If you have been blessed with a typical child, don’t just be thankful, please lend your hand or your voice to prevent a similar fate from occurring to some other helpless child.

  • I could see extenuating circumstances knowing at birth but at 5 years? There is nothing that could make me want to give up a child I have grown to know and love. You’d have to kill ME first.
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  • This really sad situation ever happen, when a parents (father @ mother ) killed their own son/daughter. This kind of parents is worst than animals. Animals also know how to protect and love their baby.

    Autism parents should be given educated how to care their children. A counselling and advise maybe can help the autism parents.

  • debp

    I don’t know these parents, I am not going to judge them. Maybe, they had no support, maybe they just realized they couldn’t do it, and thought that the state could give their son the support he needed. I would rather that they give him up, then get to their breaking point, and possibly hurt the child.
    I have raised my son, on the autism spectrum, by myself with the barest minimum of support. I am very worried about him as he gets older. I won’t be around forever. My town has plenty of support for those with low functioning, but I know my son will fall through the cracks. I have already asked about this as he gets older, and they won’t even answer my questions, unless I go ahead and put him in their system.

  • Wow. I think it was extremely courageous of this family to turn their son over to the state. It’s not the case for everyone, but it’s sad to know that they thought they were doing what was best for their child, and it turned out to be a nightmare. :(

    Thank you for posting.
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  • dee morse

    those not in that position just cant even begin to understand . And if you have a normal child or a loving child who has challenges you couldn’t understand even more. It is the most mentally challenging , exhausting task to have been delt. I have watched my grandson who i love dearly destroy his mothers spirit and very soul . no one i know could do what she does but she cant keep this up. She is a single parent in a rural city. She is judged by all and hated by some because of the actions of her son who she loves and can not control and he’s only 8 years old . she has to constantly protect herself and others from him and protect him from himself. she tries to the point of exhaustion to keep him from destroying everything she owns and other peoples property. She cant take him in public because he will cuss everyone he sees and try to hit or bite . he wont sleep and she stays up night after night with him he is on meds, lots of them, but nothing seems to work– yet he is 10 times worse without the meds . She loves him but resents him and doesnt like him and is embarassed by him but she loves him and feels like hes her responsibility- her child- “”if its this hard for ‘Me’ to love him who else in the world would show him any love? i don’t want him mistreated”" she says . but she cant keep this up. its heart breaking to watch my daughter be destroyed like this. We dont know what to do. i have suggested that she find a good residental facility for him but she is resistant— i know that it is the right thing to do. sadly.

    • Tammy

      My heart goes out to you and your daughter. Is she getting any supports? Respite care?

    • Wow, she is special! The love you feel for her is the love she feels for her child, which might make it easier to understand why she can’t give him up. She is making the ultimate sacrifice as a mother, giving everything for her child.

      Are you able to help her out so she can have a break once in a while?
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      • My heart goes out to you, Dee, as I can’t imagine it is easy for you to watch your daughter go through this, or to watch your grandson go through it either. I will be praying that your daughter is able to at least get some respite help. My sister has children that have special needs, and she is able to get respite help so that she doesn’t hit that emotional wall. Perhaps your daughter could check into that?
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  • I feel lucky that my daughter is high functioning, I can’t imagine what these parents are going through. Maybe this will open the eyes of people and show them that there needs to be more support for parents with children on the spectrum, and there also needs to be some work done on “the system” that children go into.
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  • In our area we have respite set up for parents with children and adult children with disabilities. My 3 year old is Autistic. I understand about the tantrums. My husband doesn’t understand how I handle it. My patience does wear thin…that’s when he takes over for a little bit to give me a break. That is a luxury and I appreciate it. I would suggest to ANY person who has a Autistic child to put your child in a respite program. It give you the break you need and give the child some social interaction too. When you aren’t exhausted you are a better parent. If anyone ever needs to talk please feel free to email me.

  • Rob Bob

    How can any of you with a high functioning or no Autistic children even comment about how horrible it is for parents to give their very low functioning autistic kid up? You deplore that action then accuse the parents who broke under the strain of trying to “tread water” when they harm the child? Comments from people who haven’t walked a mile in their shoes.

  • Karen

    Never judge someone if you haven’t walked in their shoes!

  • Mom

    I’m the mother of an Autistic 5 year old. He’s low functioning and can be a total nightmare, or a total joy. I believe this to be true about any child. I could not ever hurt my son. He’s so intriquing even when he’s acting out.

    I get this sense of accomplishment when I figure out what he’s needing. It’s like caring for a newborn almost.

    My son has no words and very little compliance. I work with him every day to hopefully break through the barriers

    I am very scared that one day I won’t be able to physically handle his out bursts. I pray that I never have to have in him institutionalized.

    I can say this If that day comes, I will find him the best place with the most loving staff, and I will be presence there.

    I will never walk away from my child, I can never stop loving him.

    I’m only 5’5 and 125 pounds and my son is going to be a big boy, he’s already very tall for his age… and solid muscle. I hope that we can get him to control his out bursts, and his hitting me soon.

    At 5 I’ve already been knocked out twice by him heading butting me. I’ve had a fractured chin because of him hitting me with his head. He throws things and slaps me when he’s mad.

    He’s only five, I’m scared for when he’s 15. He also is very loving, he gives me 100s of hugs every day. He likes to cuddle, he loves my cooking. He’s great to take out to the park.

    He has a smile that will warm anyones heart.

    • Tammy

      It can be so difficult for parents and autistic children. We have such extreme highs and lows. I don’t know what the future will be for my family. At this moment in time, I try to focus on the highs, and just get through the lows. Like your child, my son is nonverbal. Communication has always been very difficult for us. He gets so frustrated when he can not get us to understand what he wants. Do you use pecs? I started using them with my son at that age. They helped.

  • abeautifulgirl

    Hello everyone I would like to share my story of when I gave up my autistic children. I was a single mother of three, at the age of 26. Already traumatized from a life with abusive foster parents, I’d turned to child bearing to seek that familial stability I so lacked. I loved my three boys dearly, even after knowing that two had Autism, and the youngest was developmentally delayed. I did not reject them for it and I was NOT planning to give them up. Yet here I am today, 18 excruciating months later, sitting alone in my nicely decorated, albeit lonely living room. You see, what I thought I would NEVER do, I did, because I had a complete MENTAL BREAKDOWN. It was not pretty. I was in a sheer state of panic for two weeks. I couldn’t think straight enough to find my own shoes. I was afraid of shadows, people, cars. Everything sounded 10 times louder, 10 times brighter, all my senses were extremely amplified. I feared I was going crazy. It was the STRESS. My poor brain could no longer handle the extreme demands of stressful living with autistic children. The incessant screaming, the messes, the fear of having my son get run over by a car when he dashes onto the road. The complete and utter destruction of all my belongings. Hopelessness, isolation, criticism from strangers. It all took its toll on my tired brain, and it could happen to anyone. I knew I had to save my mental health, I did not want this extreme agitation to turn into schizophrenia. I made the difficult but necessary decision to turn them over. I had to turn in my youngest as well, because the state would not separate siblings. Now, I’m about to relinquish parental rights, because here in TN the state will relinquish my rights if I don’t give them up. This is because by law, a child can only be in state care for a limited time before parental rights are terminated, and there is no exception for autistic children. I believe laws should be different for autistic children in state care. I have been demonized, when in reality I am a brave survivor of deep pain. I am now diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, I’ve had to take up escort work in order to pay for child support and my therapies, and I hope to study psychology in the near future. So to all of you, please don’t judge, because you can NEVER say NEVER…..

  • xtina

    People who say that they would NEVER give up on thier son have absoluetly any idea what it is like to have an austic son. My brother is 17 years old with severe autism. He has literally broken so many expensive things around the house. Its gotten to the point that we cannot keep the house clean because he trashes it. He has broken windows. This morning he trashed the house and broke some things. I cleaned yesterday and this morning the house looks like its been abandoned with the piles of stuff. If we try to control him while he is throwing stuff around he will hit us. For those of you who are so quick to judge the mother of that child including the woman who wrote the article. Shame on you. My mother has worked 17 years to help my brother and is about to give up. And I do not blame her.

  • sam barber

    I have a severely autistic 3 year old (he is the size of a 5 year old though) That does all of the above. He doesn’t speak, he constantly breaks things, he hit, bites and scratches. He regularly has meltdowns and it’s whingy and moany most of the time. This isn’t his fault as he cant speak and gets frustrated, but i am a single mother with no friends or family to help and the support i get from professionals is nothing less than pathetic. I also have a teenage daughter with aspergers, whom often goes ballistic at me for asking her to do the smallest things for herself (brush teeth etc), and has never been able to show me any kind of affection. I have no on-one and neither of them can tell me they love me. My son does kiss and cuddle me quite alot which i love, but it’s inbetween all the slapping hitting, kicking and biting :o (
    I want to say that people who haven’t been here have absoluteley no idea what life is like being the only carer of children on the spectrum. The confidence and joy in life you once knew dissapears, because of the constant bad experiences and slave like treatment you are forced to endure daily, and no one not even the social services feel they can help! “your son is too difficult in his needs!” that’s what i got from them. You are resentful and bitter as you choices are ripped from you (whether you want them or not) and you no longer exist! All that is left is a shell as your soul has been beaten out of you. I love my children dearly, but no-one said that life would be quite so hard and you would be isolated and alone.
    I barely sleep at night due to my sons repeated waking and the fact he often doesn’t go to sleep until 12-1 am, this makes it all the more hard. My son wants constant attention and i probably only get about 30 seconds in between demands. Between him and my daughter i cease to exist! I spend 18 hours a day being a slave to the spectrum, and only get 6 hours a week that i have to do all my noisy housework that my sons hypersensitive hearing cannot stand. I never ever ever get time to myself.
    I do not drive or have the luxury of a partner. I take my children to all there appointments by bus where i am judged and critised by uneducated bullies for the actions of my son. I run from supermarkets and shops because of my sons extreme rage tantrums (in his pushchair) as he cannot be trusted not to run away. He doesn’t speak or understand words! I spend my whole life being looked upon like trash by so called neurotypical people.
    I cannot even take my son to the park he has no danger awareness and runs in front of swings etc.

    All of the people who think they have the right to judge on me or any other carer in impossible situations, take a walk in my shoes! and see that after just a few short steps your feet are bloody and sore. I bet quicker than you can say you return those shoes from whence they came?

  • Sam Barber

    Just wanted to say I lost count at the number of times my son pulled me away from the computer during my last post. I had to endure a long tantrum to finish :o (

  • Rebeca

    I am a single mom of two autistic kids. My youngest now 12 been on the moderate to severe, with behavioral issues. I found this post searching information on the matter, since I am at the end of the rope here. I have made the extremely difficult decition of giving her up because I can’t keep us safe with her around. Monday she beat me up so badly, her rage came on me like I never seen it before, and I love her so much it’s killing me even thinking about it. I did all I could to keep her from harming my son, and I took the beating, and is ok, I did it because I love them both.
    She is only 12 and taller then me and extremely strong. I know some will judgme, but may God be my ultimate judge on all this, I have done my best and the state all does is promises, but I sit here, bankrupt because I can’t hold a job due to this, and I refuse going on welfare I want to make it on my own.
    It scares me to think my daughter would get abused. I was molested as a child and I live with the memories of that. I pray this won’t happen to no other children that has to be given up, but life says it will.
    I hope to keep some sort of say on my daughters care, and that I can take her home for special ocassions once she is in a bit more control then she is now, but until then, Monday is a big day for me, so here I go, with all my strangth, which is very little but I have no choice.

    • Tammy

      Hi Rebeca. Thank you for sharing your story. I am in no position to judge you, and I hope that no one else does either. You are in a horrible position. A parent should not have to make this kind of choice. I understand your decision, and, if I’m honest with myself, I would probably make the same one. There comes a time that you have to not only consider what is best for your autistic child, but also for your entire family. You have another child’s safety to think about. Do you have a support system in place to help you? You are about to take a huge step, and will need someone to help give you emotional support. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@taless), via email, or just by commenting on a post. I wish I had a magical answer to fix everything. I don’t. I can just listen (read), and offer comfort. You aren’t alone, even though it feels like it.

    • Rebeca, I am so sorry you have to make this choice, but it sounds like you are left with very few options. :( I pray she receives the care that she needs and is protected from abuse, and that you feel calm and sure of your decision.
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    • Rebeca, I really wish there was something I could say, that would help. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
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    • Maryann

      Rebecca, this may be too late for you, but maybe this can help others in your situation. My son is almost fully recovered from autism through biomedical interventions. We, very successfully, have used things like a gluten free and casein free diet coupled with supplements such as soil based probiotics and other supplements to bring my son to almost completely functioning independently. The best thing for anger has been killing gut yeast which has removed most traces of anger. Until we did this our son would punch, kick and bite me multiple times a day. Simply adding good quality probiotics and other natural yeast killers such as grapefruit seed extract gave us a more contented child. If I had to deal with his anger daily for much longer I would not have been able to do it. Please read Dr. Martha Herbert’s book The Autism Revolution. She is a Harvard neurologist that has realized many comorbid diseases are contributing to our children’s autism and by removing or treating those issues our children improve. Luc Montagnier, the Nobel laureate that discovered the AIDS virus is also looking at autism as a medical disorder that is treatable with medicines, supplements and vitamins. Well, I wish you the best.
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  • My heart goes out to you, that you have been put in this position. I am also the single mom to an autistic daughter, thankfully, she is a very gentle child and we do get services. Even at that it can be hard.

    I truly hope all works out for your family, and your daughter gets the help she needs.
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  • It would be really hard to give up a child but if there was a danger to the child or the family, then there’s not a lot you can do. The parents have done their best and it’s reasonable for them to expect the state to do their best too.

    The question that really needs to be asked is “Why was a teenager left alone with a 5 year old child long enough to sexually assault them?”

    I can only speak from my experience in Scouts, but we have strict age limits which prohibit 5-8 year olds mingling with 8-11s and 11-15s. We also have two step leadership whereby there is no chance that a single older person could be left in charge of one or more younger children. Even disciplinary action is subject to rules which require it to be done “out of hearing range but within sight of the group”.

    Surely the government facilities have this kind of protection too.
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  • Autism mom

    She was exhausted. Beyond stress. Do not write such a blog unless you a severely autistic child with behavior issues. Aggressions of such, self injury. She burned out. Do not blame her. Blame the system

  • Whoa whoa… does anyone here know what foster care is like? It would be the worst place for an austic child.

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