Autism and the Mentally Disturbed

You’ve likely heard about the letter from “one pissed off mother” that was delivered to the home of the grandmother of an autistic kid in Newcastle, Ontario. The vicious letter hit Facebook the other day and when I saw it, I hoped it was a scam because it was bad. When news bytes about the police investigations began turning up I was floored to find out that it was a real letter, written to a real family, about a real boy with autism.

It is mind-boggling to think that a mother, of all people, would not only sit down and write a letter suggesting that another mother euthanize her child but, in actual fact, deliver it. I know there are people who speak hateful things everywhere. I just don’t expect them to live so close to me.

Last Christmas, my husband was chatting with the men of the family when the state of the world came up. One of the in-laws began talking about how sickening it is that people are generally so dishonest and untrustworthy—and my husband piped up, in a way characteristic only to him, that this was all because of abortion. That comment cleared the room completely, but later when he and I were alone discussing his thoughts, he explained that the dishonesty and untrustworthiness in the world IS related to abortion, in his mind, because a society that kills it’s own children breeds members that are morally depraved in every way.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen thought something similar too. At one point when preaching about confession he said, “Think of how many mentally disturbed women we are going to have in the United States in the next ten to fifteen years when the guilt of abortion begins to attack the mind and soul. In years from now the guilt will come out in a peculiar way, even though at present there may not be any. Because when we suppress our guilt it is there for eternity, unless it’s forgiven. When it’s forgiven, it’s completely blotted out.” The more I reflected on Bishop Sheen’s words, the more this horrible letter made sense to me.

Many mothers these days have aborted their own flesh and blood and, in doing so, have slain their own spirit. They’re riddled with guilt, pain, and they are ANGRY. So they lash out, in ways that are likely despicable even to themselves, yet they almost can’t help themselves. Observe the pro-choice folks at a pro-life march. Abortion supporters, as a whole, don’t seem to be a contented people, but rather a venomous lot—spewing vitriol at peaceful protesters everywhere. And it makes sense, as Bishop Sheen suggests, that that hostile attitude bubbles up and overflows from a deep, dark, wounded place within a woman’s soul. Those who have been hurt by the scourge of abortion directly or indirectly are desperately crying out to be touched by the forgiveness and the healing mercy of God.

I realize this reflection won’t alleviate the anguish caused by this letter. How it must have cut to the hearts of this mother and grandmother to see so much malice directed towards this child. Yet, while I feel terrible for the recipients of the letter, I am feeling boatloads of pity for the sender. What has that “pissed off” mother experienced that has made her so full of rage and hatred for a little boy who may make an annoying sound but in no way deserves to die because of it? How much of a mother’s heart must be amputated for that kind of anger to course through it? If anything, this incident should inspire us with a greater compassion for the perfectly imperfect people around us. And for those with disabilities too.

A man named Ian MacLaren penned the phrase, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” And it’s true. We’re all huddled in the trenches of our own lives, frequently taking pot shots at each other in wild attempts to alleviate our own pain. But as Christians, we must learn to be kind, even to those attacking us. Because the fiercest fighters are sometimes the ones who are harbouring the deepest wounds.

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