Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Re: Autistic boy, 11, kills himself

Re: Autistic boy, 11, kills himself

I phrase it that way. I don't phrase it the way the article did. Blaming the autism and ADHD for suicide. This was a boy who befriended a locust in a tree. His mother said he felt like the adults at his school didn't care and could not make connections in his class. Had a gift with animals.


Isolated and miserable, I managed to find refuge in certain places. The art room, where the art teacher encouraged me to explore with sharpies and gel pens and acrylic paints. The debate room. My 10th grade English teacher's classroom. The scene shop, where I would frenetically sweep and clean the entire area after school.

Unlike Shane Laycock, I had supportive adults in my high school. I don't know how, considering the story told by so many of us of being shunned by even the adults who are supposed to care. I don't know what would have happened without them.


It was never autism's fault.

In middle school, I arrived with a set of liberal opinions from one of my parental units at a private school and set the school upside down. At a certain point, curiosity about the new student turned into vitriol. It was never autism's fault. The way they treated me created a small, scared, desperate teenager by the time I hit high school. Failure to understand difference is at fault.


I spent most of my time in trees, befriending neighborhood cats, playing with my gerbils, reading, or lost in my head. I once climbed a 40-foot-tree. I lived in fantasy worlds.

Biking is still my outlet, speeding up and down hills, feeling the wind in my face.


He said he felt like the adults at his school they didn't care. This is the experience of so many like us, shoved aside and written off and turned away. Not me (in terms of adults), but so many of us.

How can we make sure that people start to care? That people care about people like us? It was never autism's fault. It is a society that teaches difference is failure, that autism is tragedy, perpetuating the constant isolation of autistic people and other people with disabilities.

And when talking about this...

When talking about this...

Talk about a boy who walked barefoot and befriended locusts... 

Talk about a society which chose to isolate him, talk about a society that failed to accept him. Do not blame him or disability. 

Yes, in a perfect, non-ableist world, there would still be forms of disability. Certain things are disabling. But to turn away from the role society plays in perpetuating isolation would be negligence. 


  1. He sounds like such an awesome kid! I would have loved to be friends with him. And you make an important point here. This child did not want to be on Earth anymore because people were unkind to him and excluded him. Supposedly they did this BECAUSE of his autism. So, are we supposed to think, it is fine to be unkind and exclude someone who acts differently than we expect them to? He did not struggle because of his autism. He struggled because of the way people treated him. If only the people at his school could have been like those firefighters who spent time with him putting together his exercycle!

  2. I never realized how depressed my own son was in middle school. Being in a "behaviorally disordered" classroom...and, come to find out, he had pretty severe learning disabilities. He fantasized jumping off the roof of the school and flying away. Eighty percent of suicide notes from teens show evidence of a learning disability. So, add frustration to isolation....and then bullying. An awful lot to carry...

    I don't know how we can start to care. This was a lovely tribute to the young man, however. Maybe people will start to feel for others in the same place, still alive, while there is still hope.