With so many kids and parents out there dealing with autism and other special needs issues, Margaret Jensvold's story stirs strong feelings and raises important questions. Last week, this Maryland mom took the life of her 13 year-old son and then immediately killed herself. Her suicide note explained that she was utterly overwhelmed by the stresses — emotional, financial, and logistical — of raising Ben on her own.
At 13 years of age, he was struggling with an autism spectrum disorder, paranoia, and a serious weight problem. Dissatisfied by his progress in the Montgomery County school district's special needs programs, Jensvold had placed him in Wellspring, a private school that cost $50,000 a year, but she could not afford to keep up tuition payments. Her divorce lawyer, Robert Baum, told the Huffington Post that the boy "was her world."
Jensvold was a psychiatrist and felt that by killing her son as well as herself she would at least spare him the lifelong trauma of losing her to suicide.
What does it take for a single parent to raise a special needs child?