Karla Begley, whose autistic son was the subject of a horrifying hate letter from an anonymous neighbor, spoke about the controversy in an interview one week after her story went viral.
You probably remember Begley’s story. If not, here’s a primer: She lives in Ontario and is a mother to a 13-year-old autistic boy named Max. She received an anonymous letter, apparently from a disgruntled neighbor. The hate letter encouraged Begley to “euthanize” her son, spewing out unspeakable vitriol without self-control where expressive punctuation is concerned.
“He (Maxwell) is a hindrance to everyone and will always be that way…. No employer will hire him, no normal girl is going to marry/love him. Personally, they should take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate it to science. What the hell else good is he to anyone!!!”
Begley wrote a post for Love That Max, a blog run by Ellen Seidman (mother of her own Max, who has cerebal palsy). She doesn’t seem terribly angry about the letter any more, despite having felt “sick to her stomach” when she first read it.
Instead, she said that in the future she’d rather that someone who is annoyed by her son approach her about it personally, partially so that a teachable moment can take place.
“The first step is having the courage to talk openly about the subject,” Begley said.
“If Max’s sounds bother someone, I’d hope that person would let us know in a respectful way. Give us a chance to handle it instead of being cowardly about it. I’d rather people bring things out in the open. Sometimes, kids come up to me and ask ‘Why does he talk funny?’ The parents are embarrassed. But if the mom isn’t going to talk properly to a child, or teach him that kids with autism are not contagious, I will!… I’d rather kids ask than grow up to be the sort of people who write nasty letters about autism!”
Far from the accusations in the letter, Begley considers her Max a blessing.
“Everyone has a place in the world. Some people are meant to hold big jobs. Some people make you happy and smile. Max brings pure joy and love. He has taught me to slow down and appreciate life, as seen through his eyes. He’s taught us what’s important. …
“… I think I’m lucky: How many mothers still have their 13-year-old son wanting to sit on the couch, have mommy time and cuddles, and not be afraid to show love and affection?”
You can read the rest of Karla Begley’s response to her autistic son’s hate letter author here.