The Issy Stapleton Tragedy.

Start. Stop. Think. Breathe.

I am always so far behind of all the bloggers with posting about current autism-related events. It’s because I know what I want to say, but it’s locked behind so many doors in my brain that finding the right keys takes too damn long. Then, by the time I have something, the moment is gone – we move onto the next big/exciting/devastating event. In this digital age, everything moves at a break necking speed.

But, here I am, trying to find the right words to say about Kelli and Issy. It’s so important to me to get this post out, that I’m sure my thoughts will be jumbled and my phrasing won’t make any sense. But anyway.

For those that have not heard, the autism community is facing yet another crisis. One that is so much more than the individual event itself. I’m speaking about a blogger who allegedly attempted to kill both herself and her daughter.

This, on top of Alex Spourdalakis’ death in June, has sent chilling waves throughout the autism universe.

And the rise of opinions and judgments have followed in spades. From support to vilification, everyone has got their own opinion. Some are extremely, er, strong.

I only know what Kelli was going through by her blog. I know she is one of the strongest moms out there. From what I have read, she is a fighter and a tireless advocate. There are many posts that I can clearly empathize with, even if our children are on different shades of the spectrum. In her recent post, she speaks of the all-too-common thread we face about battle fatigue and her daughter “was not going to be allowed to go to school”.

So, what brings a parent to such a deadly decision?

As always, I’m on the fence. I rarely see things in “black and white”.  First, I cannot fathom murder. I cannot begin (and don’t want to) go down such a dark, dismal place. There has never been a time when such a horrible idea would pop in my mind.

Anytime I read a story (and Husband keeps telling me not to) about anything like this, my heart sinks and my hypersensitivity to sorrow kicks in. I grieve in such a deep way, as if I’m personally affected by the tragedy. And for that, I am saddened for what Issy has gone through.

On the other hand, I have battled depression for many, many years. It’s not a big secret, though I choose not to hyperfocus on it. But – I have felt the depths of despair. I have swum in the black hole of nothingness. I have rode some nasty waves in my journey (with the anxiety sidekick, to boot). And that’s just self-care. Add in the other stressors (work, family, autism, etc.) and there can be some hefty battles in my mind. And when I hit the depression rabbithole, well, it’s hard to wade through it.

But, I want to stress that while I work on managing my depression, death has NEVER been an option. Quite frankly, I’m also scared of dying. So, I continue to “work on” myself not only for myself but for my family. I have learned, just like my son, to manage and try to work through my challenges.

And, for me, that’s why I keep going. Some days, it is really tough. Anyone that has dealt with depression knows that it’s not “one size fits all” and not all strategies work the way it’s supposed to do. The medication may “stop” working or new crises emerge. That’s why I have also turned to this blog. Writing down what I’m dealing with helps identify what I’m truly facing, versus one large swath of gobbley-gook that bounces around my head.

As for this case, I pray that Issy will survive and recover. Kelli has been arrested. She will face arraignment, then trial. In that aspect, I allow the court system to do what it’s supposed to do – justice for Issy. I choose not to pontificate on other aspects – that is  not my place to do so. I can only hope that Kelli can also get the help she needs, while facing ramifications for her actions.

You may disagree with me on this, which is fine. I only hope we agree that this serves as a wake-up call to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are an autism momma, a Down Syndrome dad, or the seemingly perfect neurotypical parent, seek help if you need it. If you have ever felt such a strong feeling to end a life please reach out.  

Look to your family. Look to your community. Look to the wonderful Interwebz and find support in online groups or social media. I know that in this case, all this and more may have been utilized and still the outcome could have been deadly.

But it doesn’t need to be your outcome.


Some noted resources:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Autism Action Partnership

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance



About OneLoCoMommy

I live in Northern Virginia and and I look like the stereotypical suburban mom, for better or for worse. My son plays baseball and takes karate (albeit adaptive). My daughter is a gymnastics diva but rolls with the boys in T-ball. I've been a Room Mom and Playdate Coordinator. I work full-time, try to work out, and love my Book Club. However, I also blog on my experiences on our ASD, SPD and ADHD journey while trying to be a better parent advocate. All in a life's work.
This entry was posted in Autism, Autism Awareness, Life, Ramblings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Issy Stapleton Tragedy.

  1. Denise says:

    The story is truly heartbreaking. I poked around her blog and there was so much love along with the struggles. Society is failing in helping families who need it.


    • OneLoCoMommy says:

      It’s obvious that she cares deeply, judging by her heartfelt posts. To me, that’s why it’s all the more shocking…that she had done so much, and yet, maybe somehow she felt she couldn’t go any further. I just don’t know.


  2. Krystal says:

    We need to be there for each other and band together to let society know that there is more to special needs parenting than what meets the eye. And yes, there is no black and white in this situation…many hugs dear friend for sharing your thoughts to this. Much love!


    • OneLoCoMommy says:

      I agree. Many (including myself) sometimes don’t want to “let on” everything that goes on…because, well, it’s not sunshine and lollipops. Life in general can be hard and craptastical. But not confronting what we fear will only make it worse.


  3. Lisa says:

    Very well said. We are not alone. We can work together to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. It doesn’t have to be the outcome.


    • OneLoCoMommy says:

      There are days where I wonder if the schism in the autism community grows by the disagreements on vaccines, medications, therapies…whatever. But whatever disagreements there are, I feel that one should be able to call out for help or a supportive ear, right?


  4. Stan says:

    Kelli had successfully obtained every service known to mankind for her daughter — following a 6+ month breather during which Issy was at boarding school! Kelli got a Medicaid waiver, had trained staff and volunteers on Issy’s behavior plan, had the Medicaid waiver paying trained staff for ALL OF ISSY’S WAKING HOURS! she didn’t agree with Issy’s school placement but hadn’t bothered to formally appeal it.

    Kelli had the BEST resources for Issy. The best! PCAs for every waking hour!!! And yet chose to try to kill her daughter — all. That. Help. Kelli deserves to rot in jail. Issy will have brain damage, her other kids will be traumatized and and motherless AND her hubby is effectively a single parent!


  5. Stories like this make me so angry at the state of mental health care in our country. One of the richest countries in the world and something that is at the crux of humanity, our mental well being, is at the bottom of the list. My mother was bipolar and she was considered lucky in that she had a doctor who prescribed her meds and a counselor who talked with her every other week. But when Mom was in trouble, I felt like I was screaming at a brick wall. It wasn’t until she was a danger to herself that she was hospitalized. And by that point, she had lost all touch with reality; she was completely paranoid and delusional. It took a huge toll on her and our entire family every time she got bad enough to require hospitalization.

    When my son was a toddler and was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, I was quite depressed. I believe I was depressed from when my son was born until he was 5 or 6. My depression manifested like Mom’s: extreme exhaustion. And if Mom had ever told me what it was like, I would have known that I was depressed and could have gotten help years earlier than I did. Even my doctor blew me off when I told her I thought I was depressed. (Bitch!) I had no friends or family to help me with my son when he was so difficult to deal with every single day. It was hell.


  6. Just wanted to add that I discovered this video the other day- Nanci Danison, A Lawyer’s Near Death Experience and having the perspective of “the other side” has helped me immeasurably- especially when such things happen in the world that can be so painful. It’s an hour long, if you have the time to view it from end to end, it’s amazing. The things she speaks about jive with what a friend of mine says about her own near death experience, and also jive with a handful of other near death experiences I’ve read about, and even books I’ve read where spirits who had recently died were interviewed with the assistance of a medium. Hugs.


  7. This is really heartbreaking. To me I’m very sad for the daughter who may never recover. My baby is only 2 and although faced with many challenges none are serious or health related. Other than 5 months of colic which seemed brutal at the time. I understand frustration, but murder or suicide is never an option.

    Many times no one sees this type of thing coming but thank God they did find them and at lease they are both alive. I pray the teen recovers because I’m sure her mom will never forgive herself if she does not. So tragic.


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