Posted by: myautisticmuslimchild | July 23, 2010

Another autism tragedy

I found this article Psychology Today and wanted to share it with you all.

To read the original post please click here.

“She killed her children with autism because she wanted “normal kids.”
Published on July 22, 2010″

All too often we hear of tragedies involving children with autism..  A few months ago I wrote about the killing of James Alenson by his classmate who was diagnosed with Asperger’s  Syndrome (see here and here).  Today I ran into the story of Zain and Faryaal Akhter being killed by their mother in Irving, Texas (read here).  Their mother, Saiqa, called 911 to report that she had killed her children.  She first put bathroom cleaner in their mouths but they refused to drink it.  Saiqa Akhter then grabbed an antenna and strangled them.  Zain was 5 and Faryaal was 2.  Two young lives taken by their mother.

Zain was reported to have a diagnosis of autism.  Whether his sister also had an autism spectrum disorder is not clear.  Family members were obviously distraught. An uncle said that Zain had been receiving therapy and was showing signs of learning.  There are reports that the mother had shown signs of depression and had told the uncle that she had seen “strange things” in the apartment the family had just moved into.  Though her mental health problems certainly seem to be a major factor in these murders, when she called 911 to report she killed her children, she told the operator that she killed her children because they had autism.  She said, “I don’t want my kids to be like that, I want normal kids.”

There are many thoughts that raced through my head when reading this story.  First was that the Autism Society of America had just held their annual conference in Dallas.  Less than a month later a mother kills a child with autism in nearby Irving.  What could have led to this?  One of the sessions I attended at the conference discussed the programs that had recently been established for providing educational and clinical services to children with ASDs in Texas under new insurance legislation that mandates coverage.  While visiting one of these programs, the Child Study Center in Fort Worth, I was told that the waiting list for services was enormous and that many insurance companies are fighting tooth and nail to deny reimbursement for service provision.  Parenting a child with an ASD can be a daunting challenge, especially when there are few supports in place.  Even though Texas now has a mechanism in place to procure services, it is not easy to access them.

Some parents of children with ASDs refer to autism as having robbed them of their children.  It is understandable that a parent wants the best life possible for their child but autism does not mean that life is over.  Life may be very different than imagined but I’d be willing to bet that most parents find that what they expected of having a child is very different than what transpires after the child is born.  Many persons with autism are very offended by the notion that autism is, in and of itself, a tragedy.  In fact, I’ve heard many such individuals vigorously protest such characterizations.  Some even go as far as saying that autism should be accepted and not treated.  While I certainly agree that some of the reactions to the behavior of people with autism could be improved with a better understanding of the disorder, I don’t agree that acceptance alone is enough.   But a better understanding of the disorder is not fostered by the newspaper’s description of autism.

They state that: “Although people with autism can lead lives that range from being severely disabled to almost the norm, many times, children with autism have behavioral problems, difficulty interacting with others, don’t sleeep well at night and have unusual sensory issues, such as such as a desire to eat only certain foods and sensitivities to noise and the texture of clothing.”

First off, I’ve met many people with autism that are well above the norm, some well accomplished experts in their chosen fields.  In terms of sleeping, I think there is much to learn about sleep and autism.  Though sleep problems are frequent, a good number of the children with autism I’ve known over the years have no sleep problems whatsoever.  Picky eating, again is frequent, but many children with autism I’ve known eat better than most typically developing people.  Similarly, sensitivities to noise and problems with clothing occur, but not always.  These are relatively minor quibbles but there are only three established markers of autism (social and communicative abnormalities and restriced/repetitive interests).

I’ll cover developments in this story as they unfold.



  1. I wish people would reach out to get help. I wish the person who feels he/she can not go on get help. People there are help out there get it!!!!!!! Autism should never be a death sentence!!!!!EVER!!!!!
    Not for the autistic person, nor for the care taker.
    It is indeed a very sad day.

  2. […] Another autism tragedy « My Autistic Muslim Child […]

    • Glad that you found us. Please visit us often, and share your experiences with us.

  3. […] Read the original: Another autism tragedy « My Autistic Muslim Child […]

  4. […] Another autism tragedy « My Autistic Muslim Child […]

  5. […] Another autism tragedy « My Autistic Muslim Child […]

    • you can look up BBB there and asked them if they have any listing of schools also ask for the local health department to get some resources for your child. they will point you to the right direction. Good luck!

  6. One can only imagine the severe strain this mother has been through and what pushed her over the edge. it’s hard not to be judgmental, sorry mom. I wonder if the father was in denial about the childrens’ issues and left the mom defenseless as she dealt with it alone all the time. I won’t be surprised if he will plead to the courts that she is mentally ill. Same old, same old… I wrote something interesting on my blog Scott and Ashley Jackson, Preventing Divorce by Tackling Autism

    • Thank you for your comment. I visited your blog, and I think I will be a regular visitor there. Great posts.

  7. this is why its so so so imperative that we unite and help each other. mothers of autism need to unite to stop this insanity!! WAKE UP PPL THIS IS REAL AND CLOSING UR EYES DOES NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM

    • It is very important, but still there are cultural garbage that interfere. Some parents hiding their disabled children from the community because they are ashamed, or they are fearing of being isolated by others. All these and so many other cases they stand alone, all by themselves helpless tired, angry and making tragic decisions. I started a group and it turned out ok at first than everyone started to make excuses not to come and attend. ! year later I found out that some others in the community referred to the group one of those disabled meetings. Some people just can not stomach this and other kind of comment. I personally ignore the ignorant.

  8. as’salamu alaykum fellow readers: i’m so saddened to read about this tragedy, and decided to write my next Wellness piece on Muslims and autism. If anyone would like to send me anything about their experience, a call for help or things that worked best for them, please email me. This article will be published on by the end of the month inshaAllah. ramadan mubarak.

  9. Actually definitely very good weblog article which has obtained me considering. I by no means looked at this out of your stage of look at.

  10. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  11. Autism and muslim moms is a facebook page I’ve started so all of us in the closet can talk together, help each other, consult and exchange ideas. I feel its important because autism isn’t talked about nor any other disability. Let’s converse

    • I will check it out, and if you do not mind mention this on my blog, thank you Huda

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  18. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often can be reliably detected by age 3. In some cases even earlier than that. Recent studies suggest that kids may eventually be accurately diagnosed by the age of 1 year or even younger. One thing for certain is that if your child shows any of the early warning signs of autism then they should be evaluated by a professional who specializes in autism disorders. Visit my site to learn more about autism signs and symptoms

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