That’s how I felt when I found out my son was diagnosed with Autism at almost 5 years old. We knew it was coming, but now it was official. Things were never going to get magically easier. This was a lifetime calling.
I was not prepared. I hated making appointments, filling out paperwork, awkward situations, sleepless nights. As a parent to a special needs child or adult those things happen often.
Outside of the tangible things, would I have the patience and longevity to parent for life? I was unsure. I was scared.
Once I started talking more about Johnny’s diagnosis I got everything autism related messaged, shared, and told to me. I didn’t mind it. It meant people cared, wanted to relate and they wanted to help.
Sometimes it was uncomfortable. I would be sent quotes that said things like, “God sends special needs children to special parents” or “special needs parents are angels walking the earth”. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing parents to special needs children all over the world. Some of my friends amaze with their strength and advocacy. I strive to be like them. But none of us are perfect. Being called an angel is nice, but that’s quite a lot to live up to. I am just a mom trying to advocate and do the best for my child.
Having an autistic son has made me a better person, but that’s not guaranteed. There are people who can’t handle it, there are people who are just awful.
Saturday morning Rebecca Greenwood, 52, and her stepson David Matheny, 33, were arrested on charges of criminal homicide. Greenwood had called 911 Friday saying she found her autistic son, Sayeed, unresponsive.
She claimed her son had fallen in the shower and hit his head the day before and that she continued to check on him throughout the day. She then went out for drinks that night and then to bed. The next day, Friday, she said they went shopping for cleaning supplies and to get food with Matheny. Then went home to cleaned the apartment and when they went to check on Sayeed he was not conscious so they called 911.
Sayeed was pronounced dead and injuries were not consistent with Greenwood and Matheny’s story. Under questioning by police, Greenwood admitted she watched as Matheny and Sayeed had an altercation. Matheny punched and stomped on Sayeed’s head. She claims she told Matheny to stop, but never made sure that he did.
The cleaning of the apartment was to get rid of evidence of the attack. The mother and stepson pair were each charged with criminal homicide and one count of tampering with evidence. Greenwood was also charged with child neglect, and Matheny was charged with child abuse. They are both being held on with no bond.
This story and similar stories break my heart. That poor boy was not given to special people. Like many children, life dealt him an awful hand. Being a special needs parent requires a lot of patiences and love. It’s not guaranteed though. Sayeed did not receive any of that.
I could never imagine hurting my Johnny. There are very hard days. He takes a lot from me, he pushes buttons, he needs constant attention, meltdowns come and go, but I see that he can’t help it. I did not know if I could do it everyday, but I do. I do everything in my power to be a better person for my child. I fight for him, I learn from him, I always remember to love him, I never want to fail him.
Rebecca Greenwood failed Sayeed. My heartaches wondering what his day to day life was like. I wish all parents who have special needs children were all born up for the task; perfect people given God’s angels. But that doesn’t happen. Almost anyone can have a special needs child. We are regular people. Some of us grow, learn, and do our best, but others don’t.