Singaporean mum pushed son off the building because he was autistic
The High Court heard that the woman, who has a history with the Institute of Mental Health since 2008, had suffered a relapse of her major depressive disorder.
A day before her 42nd birthday, this Singaporean mother had a row with her husband in their Tampines apartment. For a while now their marriage had been on the rocks, but on this particular day, their argument was particularly bad.
It was Sept 13, 2014.
As the rain began to pour down, her husband shouted at her to take the laundry in, throwing the laundry poles on the floor before leaving the apartment with their older son.
She brought the laundry inside, and when she got back discovered that her younger son, who was seven-years-old and had an autism spectrum disorder, had soiled his pants. He had fallen asleep on the sofa with the television set still turned on.
After a while she took a breather.
A thought entered her head, then: the reason for her many problems and chronic exhaustion was her autistic son—so she thought, why not kill him?
She lured her son to the kitchen, asked him to look down the kitchen window and find his grandmother below. When he obeyed, she pushed him out of the window, sending her son plummeting down from the 9th floor.
The boy died of several injuries due to the fall.
“The High Court heard that the woman, who has a history with the Institute of Mental Health since 2008, had suffered a relapse of her major depressive disorder,” The Straits Times report said.
The woman’s son and husband asked for leniency in her sentence, and said that they longed for her to return with them at home.
Justice Tay Yong Kwang sentenced the mother to five years in jail.
“I hope you recover well and that you can return home much stronger emotionally to rebuild your family and personal life,” said Justice Tay.
Parenting autistic children
Parenting is hard enough; parenting autistic children is an altogether different ball game. Children with autism spectrum disorder require more attention, more care, more patience from those in charge of looking after them.
Unlike normal children, children with autism need to be looked after beyond their teenage years. It is a life-long challenge that parents take on, and its understandable that certain parents are overwhelmed with this responsibility.
Apart from medical care and therapy, here are some simple, everyday things that will help make a difference, when it comes to raising an autistic child:
- Stay positive, love your child: Treat your child with kindness and respect. This will help him to grow up feeling like a complete and capable person. Never apologise to someone about him being autistic (and especially not in front of your child). Your child is different; embrace the difference, autism and all.
- Maintain a consistent schedule: Autistic children generally find change to be chaotic. Routines work best for them, so they understand what happens next. Avoid making unnecessary changes and confusing them.
- Create a soothing environment: Choose natural or full spectrum lighting wherever possible. Autistic children are generally sensitive to loud noise. They might want to retreat to a quiet area when they feel extremely disturbed.
- Safety first: Autistic children are known to fiddle extensively with things, so make sure you have your safety barriers in place. Set boundaries and explain safety rules to the child.
- Expect stimming: Stimming refers to repetitive behaviour, as in movements and sounds. Autistic children feel good while stimming. It is their way of preventing meltdowns, increasing self-control, and focussing. Some children can stim in a harmful way though, like bang their heads repeatedly on the wall, so the parent should watch out for such behaviour.
- Encourage special interests: Come across that child who can barely talk, but is a genius at solving puzzles? Autistic children are known to be exceptionally intelligent in some areas. These areas provide joy in their lives. Parents might want to help them improve their skills in these areas, it would increase their self-confidence as well.
- Know your child: Understand what overtly stimulates your child. What sensory stimuli causes him to have meltdowns or shutdowns. When the child is disturbed, he may start crying, covering ears, show panicked stimming, and avoidant behaviour.
- Have regular health check ups : The autistic child may not be able to communicate if he is not keeping well. So the parent must always be extra alert and sensitive to his needs.
- Encourage communication: Talk to your child. Even if there is no response, keep communicating and interacting with him. Autistic children might avoid eye contact and keep stimming, but they might be listening to every word of yours. So keep talking and explaining things.
- Choose fun therapies: Choose therapies wisely. Avoid therapies that force the child to comply to things, and are excessively long. Allow your child to be himself.
- Be prepared for emergencies: Always prepare a name card ready with the child’s and parent’s details. You might even want to hang it on his neck. Some people opt for tracking devices, which can be tracked by a mobile app.