riverA little boy with autism is dead and so is his mother in what is being called a murder-suicide in Alabama. Cops say Delicia Barrow drowned her 8-year-old son, Randle Barrow, in the Tennessee River, then returned to their home where the single mom killed herself. The tragedy was discovered after Randle, who attended a special school for kids with autism, didn't show up two days in a row.

Cops went to the Barrow home where they found the house on fire and Delicia dead. There was also a note that led them to Randle's body. The sad story shares similarities with many stories of overwhelmed parents of children with special needs who have decided to do something drastic -- and horrible -- to their children.

Inevitably, these sad tales open up a conversation about what it is that society should be doing for parents of kids with special needs, but in the case of Delicia Barrow, there's a startling fact that makes that conversation essentially moot.

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Delicia Barrow was a single mom of a child with autism -- her husband died in a car accident when Randle was just a baby -- but she was not alone.

In fact, close friends of the Barrow family have come out to say Delicia had handed over custody of Randle to them -- voluntarily -- earlier this year. The couple were even named in Delicia's will as guardians for the little boy. But it was Delicia herself who just recently decided to take her son back ... and, of course, it seems it was Delicia herself who made the horrible decision to take her child's life.

His mother HAD help! She HAD options when she was feeling like life was too much! She didn't have to ask for Randle back, and she could have returned him to her friends.

That's more than most single parents have, more even than most two-parent families have. When most of us are feeling overwhelmed, we have to just push ahead as is; we don't have someone willing to take our children for us for awhile so we can figure out our own problems without involving them.

As a parent, I know that it's not an easy gig -- whether your child has special needs or not. This doesn't mean that there is ever an excuse to kill your own child (there is NOT), but we can all acknowledge that sometimes you're simply pushed to the edge, and you need someone to help pull you back. You might be sympathetic to the person even when you're in complete disapproval and shock over their decisions.

But in the case of a mom who had help and didn't take it, who actually went and got her kid back ... only to end his life ... I'm not even able to have sympathy for the person, separate from her crime. 

Whatever she was going through, her child did not deserve this. Period.

What is your reaction when you hear about a mom who killed a child? Do you ever have sympathy for her?