I am fortunate enough to be a trainer at my job. I train the new hires to do their jobs. I have a schpeel that I give every single one of my trainees. Why? Because I think it can help to make or break them in this job. Here is my schpeel...
"There are three types of people that work here. There are those that view everything in the black and white. These people see that there are rules and these rules are meant to be followed. It doesn't matter how petty the rule or what the circumstances are behind the rule breaking behavior, that person broke a rule and they are going to receive discipline for it. Then, there are those people who put on the black uniform and become Billy Bad-Ass. These are the ones who go LOOKING for people to break rules. They pick on certain people. They were the ones who probably got picked on a lot in high school and are now abusing the power of their position to make some random person pay for the abuse they had to endure growing up. Those people usually don't last long here and the 'clients' usually make their time here a living hell. Then, there are the people that I like to consider myself like. These people realize that there is NO black and white situation. There is a grey area to everything. We understand that there are times when yes, someone broke a rule, but hey, their mom just died. We should probably cut them a break. Talk to them about it? Absolutely. PUNISH them for it? Well, that depends. Did they hurt themselves or someone else? Did they break the law (again)? No? Well, maybe we can let them off with a Verbal Warning instead of some harsher discipline this time. We know how to pick our battles and because of it, we have a much better rapport with the people we are supervising."
I'm telling you all this because recently, a dear friend, Kelli Stapleton, tried to kill herself and her child. There are many people out there in cyberland trying to crucify her for her actions. They are looking at everything in the black and white and totally missing out on that crucial grey area. They are missing the fact that something drove this 45 year-old woman, with no criminal or aggressive background, a wife and mother, a pillar in the community, a preschool ballet teacher, to try to take her own life and the life of her beautiful 14 year-old daughter with autism. This girl that she has fought for, tirelessly, to ensure she received the care and treatment she not only needed, but deserved and couldn't get without a huge financial burden on the family.
What Kelli attempted is wrong and horrible. BUT, until we know the why, that grey area, behind Kelli's actions, we will never be able to understand this. We will never know how we, as a community of parents of those on the spectrum as well as those on the spectrum ourselves, could have helped this woman.
This is not a time to look at the black and white of things. It's time to focus on the more subtle shades or the occurrence of this type of thing is going to skyrocket. Pick our battles. This is not a time to judge anyone. This is a time to find out what we could have done differently as a WHOLE community to help support one of our own. Someone who was fighting the good fight and lost horribly. Because, let's face it, regardless of whether we are a parent to someone with special needs or someone with special needs ourselves, we all need help sometimes. We need help from those willing to look at the grey areas and not judge us for our short comings. That's the only way we are going to reduce such tragedy.