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#JusticeForIssy: Statement by Autism Women’s Network

The Autism Women’s Network recently released a statement in regard to the attempted murder of a young teenager with autism, Issy Stapleton, by her mother. Recently the parent, Kelly Stapleton, pled guilty to first-degree child abuse despite admitting to attempted murder. She has not been sentenced yet.

Image description: pale pink background with whimsical dragonflies in the upper left and lower right corners of the graphic. Text reads: “Autism Women’s Network an Intentional Community”  Below the text is an assortment of words and phrases in multiple fonts, text size and burgundy colored hearts scattered throughout the image. The assorted words read: “Neurodiversity, Respect, Disability Rights, Activism, Community, Autistic, Autism Acceptance, Inclusion, Presumption of Competence, Advocacy, Disability Pride, Diversity, Intersectional, Identity First, Functioning Label Free, Inclusive, Social Justice”


AWN Calls for Zealous Prosecution in the Attempted Murder of Issy Stapleton

Earlier this week, an autistic teenager in Michigan survived a murder attempt committed by her mother, who is now facing criminal charges. The Autism Women’s Network is deeply saddened and profoundly concerned at yet another situation in which a disabled person has been targeted for violence by a family member. Our work seeks to challenge the dominant narrative of disability as defect, deficiency, and disorder, because this narrative paints a disabled person’s life as a tragedy and a burden. This is precisely the kind of attitude that leads to justifications for violence against disabled people, when policymakers and the media alike encourage the public to sympathize with the aggressors rather than the victims.

There is no excuse for murder or any other form of violence directed against disabled people. Lack of adequate supports and services does not lead to murder. The attitude that disabled life is lesser or of less value does. This year alone, we have come to learn of numerous cases in which disabled people were murdered by people who should have been supportive and loving. In each of these cases, the rhetoric of excuses and justifications for the murderers has dominated public discourse about the lives of people with disabilities.

We urge law enforcement and prosecutorial offices to commit to thorough investigation and zealous prosecution of these acts of violence as hate crimes. Until our legal system begins to recognize that these crimes are connected by the same attitude of hatred for people with disabilities, those who commit them will continue to be able to do so with impunity. The work of the Autism Women’s Network is predicated on developing communities more responsive to the needs of autistic women and more inclusive and accessible to all people with disabilities. Our goals of equal access and opportunity will never be achieved for as long as the law treats violence against disabled people as excusable or acceptable.


Here are a few tweets about this case using the hashtag #JusticeForIssy


Autism Women’s Network is to provide effective supports to Autistic women and girls of all ages through a sense of community, advocacy and resources.

The Autism Women’s Network is dedicated to building a supportive community for Autistic women of all ages, our families, friends and allies.  AWN provides a safe space to share our experiences in an understanding, diverse and inclusive environment.

AWN is committed to recognizing and celebrating diversity and the many intersectional experiences of Autistic women. AWN welcomes all women, supporters of women, those who have at one time identified as women and non binary gender variant individuals.  AWN recognizes and affirms the gender identity of each individual.  AWN also welcomes the support and community of those who do not and have not identified as women as allies to support us in our work. If you have additional questions, please contact Lei Wiley-Mydske, AWN Community Outreach Coordinator:




Twitter: @Autism_Women

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