Mother Charged in Murder of Her Autistic Son
By Patrick B. Craine
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, October 30, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Mississauga, Ontario woman was charged earlier this week with murdering her autistic son in what some are speculating may be a case of euthanasia spurred by the boy's condition.
While full details on the case are yet to be revealed, one advocate for people with disabilities has urged authorities not to treat autism as a "mitigating factor," but instead to "extend special legal protection" to Canada's vulnerable.
Tony Khor, 15, was found by Peel Regional Police on Sunday morning around 11:00 a.m. in Homewood Suites Hotel. The boy's mother, Seow Cheng Sim, 51, reportedly booked the hotel room on Saturday night for her and her son following an argument with her husband, Boon Khor.
According to neighbours they were arguing over how best to care for Tony, their only child. Longtime friend and neighbour, Peter Varanelli, said Boon wanted to send Tony, who suffered from severe autism, to a specialized care facility, but his mother would not have it.
"Her son was her life. Period," Varanelli said. "Maybe she should have just accepted that he needed to go to an institution, but she just couldn't see it that way."
The mother has been charged with first degree murder.
While police are still investigating whether Tony's condition motivated the killing, disability right's organizations are speaking out about the boy's death.
"It's heartbreaking, but there are hundreds of thousands of families out there managing to cope without this end result," Suzanne Lanthier, executive director of Autism Speaks Canada, told the National Post.
Strikingly, Tony's murder occurred at the same time as Parliament is deliberating over Bill C-384, which would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, noted that a similar incident occurred in Montreal more than a decade ago when Charles Blais, an autistic boy, was killed by his mother. She was charged and convicted, but given a suspended sentence.
According to Schadenberg, such cases are particularly distressing because autistic children will normally completely and totally trust their caregiver.
"My fourteen year-old son is autistic and I feel particularly connected to cases where the parent of an autistic child injures or kills their child," he said. "I understand the challenges in raising an autistic child and I do not claim to be a perfect parent but the thought of killing an autistic child is abhorrent."
"We cannot make a judgement on this case without further information," he continued. "It is possible that Khor's mother was experiencing a total mental breakdown, but even if that were true the court should not consider autism as a mitigating factor but rather society needs to extend special legal protection to people with disabilities because of their vulnerable nature."