Tuesday, August 20, 2013

an open letter to "one pissed off mother".

Karla Begley is a woman with multiple sclerosis who has a 13-year-old son named Maxwell who has autism. She often brings Maxwell to her mother's house in Newcastle, Ontario for sleepovers because Karla needs help taking care of him and because he loves watching the movie "Grease" with his grandmother. Recently, Maxwell's grandmother received this hateful letter in the mail explaining in great detail why Maxwell isn't welcome in that neighbourhood.

The letter-writer -- who signed the missive as "One pissed off mother" -- was brazen enough to suggest that Maxwell should be euthanized, but lacked the courage to state her real name. I have never lacked the courage to put my name behind anything I write or say, and that will not change in this hypothetical response if I was mailed this letter about my seven-year-old son with autism -- who is coincidentally also named Maxwell.

Dear “One pissed off mother”,

Your letter has left me feeling terribly sad. Not for me, or for my son Maxwell -- that’s his name by the way, not “retard” or “wild animal kid” -- but for you. In reality, I will never share your thoughts with my son, because he is a happy child who brings an incredible amount of joy to those who know him. And while your words were very hurtful to read, the support I receive from my family, friends, and my more understanding neighbours lifts me up on a daily basis and outweighs anything you could ever say to me.

... Read my full response on iVillage.ca


  1. Barbara Tiede2:58 p.m.

    Dear Katrina Carefoot ... Having read your full response to Anonymous's hateful letter, I've tracked you down to this site in order to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for saying to One pissed-off mother!!!!! (so alarmingly full of vitriol) what so many of us would wish to say once the tears, shock and anger had subsided. Thank you!

  2. Barbara - thanks so much for taking the time to read my response and for reaching out. All we can do when someone behaves in this nature is to respond with a level head. There is no point in continuing the pattern of anger and hate. I suppose that years of my son being in behaviour therapy has taught me something as well ;-)

  3. Libby Keyabuck8:25 p.m.

    I too have tracked you down here from first ivillage and thence Twitter to take you up on this bit of your response: "it seems likely to me that you have not had the privilege of having a close friend or family member with special needs. This is a great shame for you and your “normal" children. <-- "Privilege"? You gotta be kidding me! That is toxic effluvia that once resided in a herd of livestock.
    *I* have a special needs brother and it's not a !@#%ing privilege --- it did a lot to destroy my parents' marriage, sidelined me and my brother throughout our younger years, and dominated or dictated many aspects of our family's life. My parents have their hearts broken by the situation every day and are terrified of what will happen once they die.

    I've bit my tongue throughout this recent pink-letter business but that tripped my gag reflex.

    (And while we're at it: for a society so ready to offer faux-concern about the hurt feelings of the family of this kid, we're pretty reluctant to do anything concrete to help. The pretend-sympathy makes me want to vomit. If those people rallying around the family now are willing to offer respite care to the mom on a regular basis once this has all blown over I will eat my words, until then this "oh-isnt-it-terrible" stance is pretty cheap.)

    If society actually cares about these people, perhaps they could do something to address it in a meaningful way that goes beyond tutting at the original letter-writer. As it is, my parents' fondest wish is that their son die before they do. Where the hell is the privilege in that?

    1. Libby Keyabuck11:44 a.m.

      Your determination to block out the facts of a differing experience has given me the "privilege" of an up-close look at hypocrisy.

  4. While I applaud your concern and bravery in writing this open letter, you should know that it is being circulated around facebook as if you are the mother of the "Max" mentioned in the hateful letter pictured above. This is causing a great amount of confusion about the story and his real mother Karla Begley. Just an FYI

  5. Anonymous3:18 p.m.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | 10:41 PM ET
    CBC News : "Katrina and Scott Carefoot of Oakville, Ont., say if a test had been available sooner, their four-year-old autistic son Max would have been diagnosed and treated earlier. He was diagnosed 18 months ago.
    The couple also sees the potential downside: if there'd been a prenatal test, they'd likely have ended the pregnancy."

    Is that YOU?!!?

  6. Anonymous11:25 p.m.

    mai chau lodge | nhà hàng bia tươi
    a touching letter. I'm really thrilled because it

  7. Anonymous8:11 p.m.

    I have sympathy for the lady who wrote that letter. Retarded/mentally defective children can be a real handful. Anyone that "pissed off" didn't just pop up randomly, or without provocation over a long time. Maybe your kid would be better off T-4. So, Mrs Begley, I do not think you are above criticism.

  8. Anonymous8:30 p.m.

    The Begleys should be sterilized. God forbid they turn out another one like that. People who have had a mentally or physically defective child should be sterilized. All efforts to detect and prevent defective births should be mandatory, and start in the first trimester. Abortions for these children should be permitted into the third trimester.

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  12. Anonymous10:35 p.m.