Fri, Jan 13, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Groups call for support for parents of the disabled

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of various support groups for parents of mentally disabled children and the painter Huang Mei-lien, who suffers from cerebral palsy, yesterday hold candles to commemorate the recent death of a young cerebral palsy patient at the hands of her father.

PHOTO: SUNG CHIH-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Following an incident earlier this week in which a teacher in Taichung strangled his cerebral palsy-afflicted daughter to death, civic groups gathered yesterday to call for the public's support for parents and families with mentally disabled children.

Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), deputy-director of the Parents' Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and also the mother of a mentally disabled child, said that although the incident was sad and shocking, she understood the frustration that the teacher felt at the time.

"I myself and other parents have felt frustrated with our mentally or physically disabled children and have also considered taking the same path, but we sought help," Chen said. "We hope that families out there who have the same problems can get help too and prevent more tragedies like this from happening."

The junior-high school teacher, surnamed Chuo, suffocated his eight-year-old daughter on Sunday afternoon while his wife and maid were shopping. The daughter had cerebral palsy and was blind.

Sun Yi-hsin (孫一信), deputy secretary-general of the association, said that parents of disabled children have to shoulder an incredible amount of pressure and far too many responsibilities.

Sun said that, as in Chuo's case, his family had a maid to help care for the child, so it was emotional pressure and not the lack of care-giving aid that caused him to strangle his daughter.

Many parents have chosen to commit suicide together with their disabled children to put an end to the pressure, Sun said.

Huang Mei-lian (黃美廉), a well-known artist with cerebral palsy, said that her mother had once wanted to kill her and commit suicide out of frustration, so she understood how Chuo must have felt.

"But my father accepted me as who I am because he said that every life is precious," Huang said.

The association, along with several disabled care-giving groups, hope to reserve the last Sunday of each year as a "Breather Day" for parents with disabled children.

On that day, Sun said, civic groups, social workers and volunteers will help care for disabled children for one whole day, allowing the parents to have a day off.

In addition, the government should institute better care-giving policies for the disabled, Sun added.

Sun said that Chuo had not joined a support group for parents of disabled children and had no one to share his feelings with or turn to for support.

Only 15,000 parents and family members have joined such groups, but there are more than 150,000 disabled people in the country, Sun said.

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