Yesterday morning, a story broke that affected me deeply. Twin boys, aged 3, and their sister, 4, were found dead in their home in South London. It was revealed early on that all three children had ‘life limiting’ genetic disabilities.
A woman, 42, was arrested in connection with the incident, on suspicion of murder. Her relationship to the children was not revealed immediately. What was revealed early on was that the family were wealthy- the father is a City banker and the family had help in the house from a nanny and a maid.
The instant emotional reaction of disabled people told us that the woman under arrest was the children’s mother. However, the revelation that the family had house help made some of us wonder whether one of the two house helpers may, just may, have been responsible for the tragedy. And I admit, I personally hoped that the mother was not responsible. Because I have been disabled since birth- and I am lucky enough to have parents who would never do any such thing. So cases like these always affect me deeply.
However, late last night, it was revealed that the woman under arrest was, in fact, the mother of the children.
A reader of Same Difference wrote online that parents killing their disabled children is a ‘common occurrence.’
Sadly, this is not a lie. There have been several cases over the last seven years, since Same Difference started, in both America and England, of parents who have killed their disabled children.
Three particular cases stick in my mind from England. The case of Naomi Hill, whose mother, Joanne, drowned her in a bathtub. Naomi, 4, had mild Cerebral Palsy. Joanne Hill said at the time that she was unable to cope with this disability.
The case of Ajit Singh, a 12 year old autistic boy who was forced to drink bleach because his mother feared he was about to be taken into care. She was reported to have had a personality disorder.
The case of Tom Inglis, whose mother, Frances, injected him with heroin as he slept, because she thought he was suffering after becoming disabled.
Each of these cases affected me deeply, for different reasons. However, in each of these cases, motives for the killings were revealed and, somehow, somewhere, made sense- if it can ever make sense for a parent to kill their own child.
We do not yet know a great deal about the New Malden case. However, on first impressions, it is simply very, very sad. And very little about it appears to make sense.
As I said earlier, the family were wealthy. News reports have revealed that they spent several months, and a fair amount of money, adapting their house to fully meet the needs of the three disabled children.
Neighbours described them as a lovely family and expressed their shock. The family had the support of the two women working in their hone, and the mother was a full time carer for the three children.
Saddest of all, although the children’s disability has not been revealed, we know that it was already ‘life limiting.’ This makes it even more difficult to understand why anyone would have killed them too soon.
So, why are these three disabled children dead? Did their mother have mental health problems that no one could have seen coming, like Ajit Singh’s mother, Satpal, was reported to have had?
Did she, like Joanne Hill, feel shame, secretly, that she was afraid to reveal to her family, perhaps because they did not share these feelings? News reports have revealed that the father and the couple’s non-disabled daughter are currently on a holiday. Did she wait to act on her shame until they were out of the way?
Did she think she was ending their suffering, as Frances Inglis did with her son, Tom?
Or is she simply not responsible at all? Could the family simply have been the victims of a break-in or attempted robbery gone tragically wrong? Did she manage to save herself, but not her children?
Unlikely? Far fetched? Yes, readers, I know. But – and as the disabled child of loving parent carers, a part of me still hopes this is the case. Because, readers, I find the idea of any parent killing their own child simply too painful to think about. And the idea of a parent killing their disabled children is worse still for me- because I believe that real parents should love their children unconditionally.
I know how difficult disability is to handle, especially for non-disabled parents, who know what their disabled children are missing out on. But if, for any reason, this mother was unable to care for her children at home, I have to wonder if she considered putting them into care- or simply separating from the family while she dealt with her own pain, if their father was supportive.
I am sure full details will be revealed in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, readers, I have one final thought to share with you: if many more cases like these are revealed in England, could we go back to a time when all disabled people are taken away from their parents, because Social Services are worried for their safety at home?
I, for one, sincerely hope not. Because the thought makes me shiver in fear and sadness, for what such a policy would do to the lives of the many disabled people who are safe, and deeply loved, at home with their families.
Update: Matthew Smith says the children had Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Originally posted on Diary of an SAH Stroke Survivor:
There will be a three day hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 22, 23 & 24 July 2014 in an attempt to establish what the DWP is going to do to remedy the substantial disadvantage that people with mental health problems suffer when being put through the Work Capability Assessment. This will follow a directions hearing that will take place in May.
Everyone knows that the only real remedy to our plight will be when these mock assessments are abandoned but, until then, we will continue the fight to try to improve them.
The case centres around the importance of further medical evidence for a person with mental health problems and on who is responsible for obtaining this evidence. Both the MHRN and the judges believe that such evidence is vital and that the DWP should be responsible and proactive in obtaining…
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Fox has reported on disability issues for The One Show and Rip Off Britain and has made documentaries for Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live, including Beyond Disability: The Adventures of a Blue Badger and Disabled and Desperate to Work.
She also regularly contributes to Richard Bacon’s Moan-In on Radio 5 Live.
From June, Fox will work as part of a team of three broadcast journalists based in Salford dedicated to reporting on disability issues, including producer Ruth Clegg and a cameraperson who is yet to be appointed.
Fox said: “I am beyond excited to be joining BBC News and am thrilled to be able to work as part of a specialist team of journalists, dedicated to the reporting of disability issues for a national audience, in a new and fresh way.”
Fran Unsworth, deputy director of BBC News, said: “Nikki’s appointment demonstrates BBC News’ commitment to providing the best disability news reporting across the country.”
Gary Smith, UK news editor for BBC News, said: “She is a talented broadcaster with an in-depth understanding of disability issues and her appointment is an important addition to our specialist journalism, allowing us to report disability stories with new expertise and commitment.”
Updated 2pm: News reports now suggest all three children who died were disabled. A woman has been arrested but her relationship to the children has not yet been revealed as far as I know.
Updated 12am 24/4: News reports are now revealing that the woman who has been arrested was the mother of the children. A bigger post follows on the case and the issues it raises.
Originally posted on Vox Political:
The aim is to secure the release of mortality figures – death statistics – covering people who were claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance during 2012.
Figures for later dates were not part of the Freedom of Information request that forms the basis of this action (submitted back in June 2013, nearly a year ago), so it is unlikely that these will be forthcoming. The hope is that the tribunal will judge in favour of the information being released, ensuring that further requests cannot be blocked by the DWP.
The government’s claim is that a single-sentence, off-the-cuff line at the end of a Vox…
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In this programme Peter meets Sophie Christiansen, who became a triple gold Paralympic medallist at the London 2012 Games and talks about her cerebral palsy how she is using her fame to help challenge attitudes around disability:
“We should use the Games as a platform to speak about disability as the public love the Paralympics and sport but don’t always understand what life as a disabled person can be like. Whenever anyone tells me I’m doing a good job at that, it means I’m doing the right thing.”
Sophie was introduced to horse riding on a school trip when she was just six years old – eventually discovering a love of speed riding which frequently saw her Dad running alongside her ready to catch her should she fall. Her first major international competition came ten years later – the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, where, riding Hotstuff, she won an individual bronze medal. That same year, she was also voted BBC London Disabled Athlete of the Year.
Sophie was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list for services to disabled sport and an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours list.As well as becoming a triple gold Paralympic medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 2012 also saw Sophie achieve her Masters degree in Maths from Royal Holloway University
Peter White explores her motivation, experiences and even her love life as the two chat about life after the Paralympics and the impact the Games have had.
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