how do we get from here to there

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Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 7.31.24 PM

~ My Facebook status tonight

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There is a TED talk that has been making its way around the Internet like wild-fire. Or perhaps just around my little neighborhood in Internet Town. But it seems to be everywhere I turn. A friend sent it to me via Twitter, another by e-mail. A third posted it on my Facebook wall. The third time was the charm. I finally felt compelled to watch it.

The talk is advertised as follows:

What is it like to raise a child who’s different from you in some fundamental way (like a prodigy, or a differently abled kid, or a criminal)? In this quietly moving talk, writer Andrew Solomon shares what he learned from talking to dozens of parents — asking them: What’s the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?

After I watched it, a friend asked me what I thought. My answer was that I wasn’t ready to answer. I’m still not. I will need to watch it again (this time without a kid over my shoulder telling me something absolutely, positively vital every forty-five seconds) and then process it all long before I can comment on it intelligently.

So I’m not really here to talk about Andrew Solomon. But in light of the events of the past few days, I’m not sure how not to.

You see, he started his talk with this quote:

“Even in purely non-religious terms, homosexuality represents a misuse of the sexual faculty. It is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. As such, it deserves no compassion; it deserves no treatment as minority martyrdom; and it deserves not to be deemed anything but a pernicious sickness.”

“That,” he said,”was from Time Magazine in 1966, when I was three years old. And last year the President of United States came out in favor of gay marriage. And my question is, “How did we get from there to here? How did an illness become an identity?”

He had my attention.

I would argue, however, that we are not “there” yet. Suicide rates among homosexual youth are still desperately and tragically high. Marriage equality is still an issue for political theater. The simplest, most unobtrusive displays of affection are still acts of courage and defiance. And sadly, loving openly can still be dangerous.

And yet, we are “here.” In a place where the President of the United States says that he supports gay marriage. In a place where we, as a society,  are at least beginning to see the beauty and strength of diverse families. In a place where the doors to my daughter’s middle school classrooms are decorated with rainbow flags and sport stickers that advertise “This is a LBGT Safe Space.”

So while Mr Solomon’s question is a good one — “How did we get from there to here?” I’d add to it …”and how do we get from here to where we really want to be?”

Later in his talk, Mr. Solomon said, “I’m going to quote from another magazine of the ’60s. This one is from 1968. The Atlantic Monthly, Voice of Liberal America, written by an important bioethicist. He said, “There is no reason to feel guilty about putting a Down’s syndrome baby away, whether it’s ‘put away’ in the sense of hidden in a sanatorium or in a more responsible lethal sense. It is sad, yes. Dreadful. But it carries no guilt. True guilt arises only from an offense against a person, and a Down’s is not a person.”

“There has been a lot of ink,” he went on to say, “given to the enormous progress that we’ve made in the treatment of gay people. The fact that our attitude has changed; it’s in the headlines every day. But we forget how we used to see people who had other differences, how we used to see people who were disabled, how inhuman we held people to be. And the change that has happened there which is equally radical is one that we pay not very much attention to.”

Again, while we have indeed made great strides in the way that view our disabled brothers and sisters since 1968, I hesitate to join Mr Solomon in congratulating us too heartily. Abuse and neglect run rampant through the world of the disabled and differently abled. Decisions are made without consult nor consideration for the ones who they will affect the most. And despite what we’d like to think about ourselves and our society, we prove every day that personhood is still not assumed, but instead earned by virtue of one’s ability to make himself understood to others.

This past weekend, 14 year-old Alex Spourdalakis was stabbed to death in River Grove, Illinois.

The story, as reported by ABC News, reads as follows (warning, it is extremely difficult to read):

First degree murder charges have been filed against Dorothy Spourdalakis, the mother of a teen with severe autism found stabbed to death in west suburban River Grove.

River Grove Police say they are both on suicide watch Tuesday night at the police station.

Police now say Dorothy Spourdalakis and another 24/7 caregiver and close family friend, Jolanta Agatha Skrodzka, have told investigators it was all too much: they tried to end the pain for Alex and themselves. The weapon, which had been missing, was found, wiped clean, inside the home.

“They cleaned the knife, they put the knife back in the butcher block and took the pills and laid down in bed next to him,” said River Grove Police chief Rodger Loni.

Alex was murdered by his mother and his caregiver. They killed him in what, to my mind, is one of the most violent ways imaginable. They stabbed him in the chest with a knife. Not once, not twice, but repeatedly. Until he was dead.

Then they cleaned the knife and put it back into the butcher block in the kitchen.

The horror of this act is beyond comprehension. I am nauseous as I type these words. The murdered of a child is horrific under any circumstances, but when the child is killed at the hands of his own mother, the human being charged by God or nature or the universe or whatever or whomever you choose to believe charges us with the sacred duty to care for our young, I have no words.

We all know that the media loves a villain, so as I read the story, I could only imagine how they would treat the two monsters who murdered their own child. My mouth hung open as I read the next line.

Kathleen and Tony Falco know the feelings of hopelessness and isolation.

Their 21-year-old son Frankie was also diagnosed with severe autism as a 2-year-old. He’s now 21, six foot two and more than 200 pounds. Frankie now lives in a group home.

“One of the biggest difficulties we have is having him hurt not only himself but hurt people, other people,” said Kathleen Falco. Those who know the family say it is tragic end to a long and desperate search for help.

A video from the Autism Media Channel on YouTube shows Alex Spourdalakis in February during one of many hospitalizations. His mother can be seen tenderly washing Alex’s feet.

“Dorothy, the mother, had absolutely nowhere to go, nowhere to live. With this boy, she would go from motel to motel,” said Polly Tommey, Autism Media Channel.

Polly Tommey and her Autism Media Channel worked with Dorothy Spourdalakis – recording these public pleas for help.

“He needs something simple, in the country, where he can run around, get the treatment that he needs so he can get better,” said Dorothy Spourdalakis, Alex’s mother, in the YouTube video.

“She was crying and so was the godmother. They were both in a terrible state – that’s why we did that plea in the hospital for help,” said Tommey.

The help never came. Over the weekend, police went to an apartment above a River Grove plumbing company and Alex was found stabbed several times. His mom and godmother at his side, alive but unconcious. There was a three page letter describing the ordeal of caring for a severely autistic- and sometimes violent- teenager.

Polly Tommey feared the breaking point was near when she last spoke with Alex’s mom.

“She didn’t know what was going to happen, how it was going to end. She just kept saying this was the end of Alex,” said Tommey.

According to River Grove police, it was about 3:00 p.m. on Sunday that they came to the second floor apartment to conduct a well-being check. Police said they were called to the scene after the boy’s father and uncle failed to get in touch with him or his mother. Police found Alex Spourdalakis, 14, stabbed to death in bed.

Families of children with severe autism say help from the state is frequently hard to come by. Services are often simply not available, they say.

A DCFS spokesperson says that Dorothy Spourdalakis was offered services, but she refused.

The very next line after, “They cleaned the knife, they put the knife back in the butcher block and took the pills and laid down in bed next to him,” said River Grove Police chief Rodger Loni.” is “Kathleen and Tony Falco know the feelings of hopelessness and isolation.”

This is not a blog. This is not an opinion piece. This is not an editorial written by fringe conspiracy theorists. This ABC news. This is us.

When a child is stabbed to death by his mother and caretaker, who have the presence of mind to wipe the weapon clean and put it away, and the FIRST tack we as a society take is to talk about how hopeless and isolated the murderers must have felt, I have to ask, how far have we really come from this …

“There is no reason to feel guilty about putting [a severely autistic person] away, whether it’s ‘put away’ in the sense of hidden in a sanatorium or in a more responsible lethal sense. It is sad, yes. Dreadful. But it carries no guilt. True guilt arises only from an offense against a person, and [a really severely autistic person] is not a person.”

The answer is clearly, not far enough.

Parenting is hard. Parenting children with significant needs can be unbelievably difficult. If you need help, get it. I know that can be easier said than done, but for the love of God, get it. Maybe it’s not perfect. Maybe it’s not the KIND of help you’d hope to have, but no matter what, it’s better than this.

A DCFS spokesperson says that Dorothy Spourdalakis was offered services, but she refused.

If the thought of hurting your child crosses your mind, get in the car and take him or her to the nearest hospital or police station and say, “I am thinking of murdering my child. I am no longer capable of caring for him.” Because the moment you entertain the thought of murder, you are not capable of caring for your child.

Parenting is hard. We need to help each other. We need to prioritize resources for families BEFORE they reach crisis levels and we need to make them easier to find. Above all, we need to figure out how to get from “here” to we really need to be. Because this isn’t it. And I don’t want to write another one of these ever again.

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Ed note: Before publishing, I sent a rough draft of this post to a friend and asked for her thoughts. She pointed out that the end of the post feels somewhat disjointed, in that I essentially change gears from talking about society’s inherent ableism and our collectively faulty view of personhood to addressing parents in crisis. She’s right. 

I told her that the disjointedness is indicative of my feelings about all of it. Because the thing is, I told her, it’s not black and white. To be clear, the fact that murdering a child, no matter what the circumstances, is unthinkable IS black and white. Period.

But talking about how to prevent it from happening again? Not as simple. Because, while changing societal thinking is the end goal and the one that will have the most impact, sadly, it will not stop the very next one of these tragedies from happening. The one that’s brewing somewhere right now, as I type. 

What will change in the immediate sense will be the way that we will talk / feel / write about the next one. And that’s not enough. We need to STOP the ‘next one’ BEFORE it happens. Because the ‘next one’ is a human being. The ‘next one’ is a child like Alex — a beautiful kid who deserves a life. And love. And safety. And care. 

And to ensure that they get it, I think that we have to acknowledge that hopelessness and fear are real and desperation happens. And that there are people out there who, thank God unlike the vast majority of the moral population, have the capacity to allow their desperation to lead to EVIL acts. And while we can never, ever, EVER on any plane of thinking, condone evil, I fear that allowing our righteous indignation to summarily dismiss those people who need help right now does that child who might be the next Alex a terrible and possibly tragic disservice. 

These women are not martyrs. They have a child’s blood on their hands. They deserve no sympathy. 

But I don’t want to mourn another child. My heart can’t take it.

So I’m saying it out loud. If you need help, find it.

Please. 

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Childhelp® —  800.4.A.CHILD (800.422.4453)

National Parent Helpline® — 855.4APARENT (855.427.2736) (available 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., PST, weekdays)

US Dept of Health and Human Services Child Welfare hotlines by state

 

 

 

 

 

32 thoughts on “how do we get from here to there

  1. What can one even say… It’s hard to see the screen through my tears, but this – the story of this young man lost before his time, the desperation of his family, all of it… I can’t just leave it be.

    All I can see is a young man struggling so hard in a world in which he is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole having his life taken from him by the one who he trusted most in this world. I cannot move my brain easily past that. I see my precious son. I see his trusting expression, even after his worst meltdowns. My heart hurts so badly, so so very badly even considering all of this story.

    I wish we, even “just” as parents, could find a way to better come together to offer one another supports that might help each other not fall through the cracks into these deep, dark places. Even if we’re just each other’s local checks and balances for when our mind goes into the darkest of places. You’re so right, we have so very far left to go.

  2. I absolutely agree with you, Jess. I agree that these women are not martyrs. These women have the blood of this child on their hands. I won’t (nor do I want to) defend their actions.

    Now with that being said, please understand that help is not easy to find. Trust me, I’ve looked. I was at a point, about 6 years ago, when I knew I was in way over my head with my girl. EI couldn’t help me. They shrugged their shoulders when I begged for help, classes, training, information, anything. DCF came in and offered me free daycare but also shrugged their shoulders when I asked for help to learn how to bond with my child and stop her aggression and serious self harm. They couldn’t offer me the help but promised to prosecute me if I failed her. The agencies that offered help had no funding. The pediatrician kept referring us to specialists that referred us to other specialists or back to the pediatrician. The counselor I sought for myself said “I have no idea how you are functioning as well as you are and no idea how to help you with this situation that won’t get any better.”

    I knew I was on my own. And that was here in the great state of Massachusetts.

    We’re good now. I’ve found the right evals, the right therapies, I’ve taken classes, lectures and seminars and my beloveds and I get through everything together now. But its important to understand that help is nearly impossible to find. If we want to stop mourning these beautiful children who’s lives were ended too soon then we need to start making sure that help is actually available. Stop the funding cuts, stop the disappearing programs in schools, help the parents gain the confidence and skill sets they need, and encourage community involvement. Once we get that done, then we can tell people to find help. First we need to make sure the help is really help and not a smoke screen.

  3. I have a severely autistic adult son. I’m not going to go into any of the exhausting and ongoing behavior, problems, co-diagnosises. I just have to say I agree with you. If parents even think of harming instead of caring, they should take them to someone who can and will. Police, Fire Dept, hospital, social services, Every state has home/hospital, developmentally disabled community based waivers that pay for medically necessary and habilitation that no agency tells parents. If she refused any help, and instead chose to end her sons life, I have no sympathy, I have no pity. I’m angry and heartbroken for Alex as he saw and felt his mother kill him. Tears 😥

  4. Even before this tragedy happened, I’ve had these thoughts heavy on my mind and heart. My boy is beautiful, non-verbal, and 5. About 6 months ago, his biting, head banging, and screaming were so out of control, I didn’t know what the future would bring. It terrified me to look beyond the hour I was getting through. I was covered in bruises from his frustrations, and he is 5. I cringed to imagine him at 10-15-20.
    But, as with so much on this ASD journey, I stopped despairing and started problem solving. It’s the only way to change things.

    And, so I worked with his ABA therapists and we figured out ways to block his problem behaviors, mildly consequate some of the more injurious ones, and teach him that he can’t cause himself or others pain when he’s upset. And, he’s 5 and he’s really severe (so everyone tells me) but I’m feeling better now, as I type this, about the future because of the help I’ve sought out.

    And I need to also share my recent FB status with you all, because it shows the gentle heart inside my boy whose behaviors are caused by many things that he can’t control. It’s about re-seeing these behaviors. Re-thinking Liam. Guiding him to a future where he can be successful. And I couldn’t do any of it without help and support. And I’d also add when I’m feeling hopeless or isolated, I look again at his behaviors and think “I too would bite, scream, pinch, and head-bang if I didn’t have words to move through the world.”

    The head of Liam’s ABA team is an incredible woman who examines and re-examines his programming all the time. When he’s not being successful, when he’s showing problem behaviors, she always is quick to look for what we (the parents, therapists, etc.) are doing that’s not working, not looking at how he is failing. “He is not failing,” she always says, “we are just not motivating him. Let’s re-think this and see how we can help him be successful and happy in the process…”

    And, anyway, here’s yesterday’s FB update that I think says it all:

    Of note from my children today:

    1. Liam: Last week on a hellish day, Liam bit one of his new therapists so hard that he sprained her finger. It was not his fault or hers really, she was trying to get something out of his mouth and that’s like #1 do-not-do rule because he’ll chomp on anything that comes near his teeth. But, I was stressed about this happening as he’s not biting anyone anymore.

    But, then there’s this: today, as this same therapist was working with Liam at school, he was playing with the shiny silver splint on her sprained finger. She patiently explained to him “Please be gentle with that finger, Liam. It really hurts me and it’s an owwey.”

    He looks at her longly and serious, and then raises her hurt finger to his lips and kisses it gently.

    True story.

    • Your story literally brought tears to my eyes. So wonderful that Liam was able to communicate such kindness to his therapist! Thank you for sharing it!

      I have twin boys who are both autistic, and communication has always been difficult for them. But like the head of your ABA team, so long as I remember that my children are trying as hard as they can to learn, and it’s up to me to figure out how to teach in a way they can understand… then we keep making progress.

      I hope Liam is able to keep working with this woman for a really long time – she sounds great, and her attitude is exactly what our kids need!

      I also want to share with you my own recent story:

      My twin boys are 9, and have been receiving OT for three years now. When they began, there was a board game that they played every week for a few months. The game had a bunch of little doors you opened with a plastic key, and behind some of them would be tokens which, once you found them all, would open a treasure chest thingy. And there were cards that you were supposed to draw to tell you which door you were allowed to open on your turn. When we began, it took both OTs, myself and my husband when he could be there JUST to get the boys to take turns passing the key to each other, and only opening one door at a time. We didn’t even TRY to include the thing with the cards.

      Earlier this week, the game was rediscovered and my boys sat down to play. One OT helped facilitate the game, they used the cards, AND they were both sitting on a big rocker-board thing while they played, and they did BEAUTIFULLY. They needed a few reminders, but three years ago we had to physically /hold/ their hands to keep them from disrupting the others’ turn! This time they would say, “Oh, here you go,” when it was time to hand off the key, and they both made these HILARIOUS “Bing!!” and “bzzzt!” noises depending on if there was a token behind a door or not.

  5. If the thought of hurting your child crosses your mind, get in the car and take him or her to the nearest hospital or police station and say, “I am thinking of murdering my child. I am no longer capable of caring for him.” Because the moment you entertain the thought of murder, you are not capable of caring for your child.

    ^^^That is the best way that I have ever seen this expressed. Thank you for putting it so clearly – it’s been bugging me since I first heard about the Latimer case when I was a kid.

  6. A sadly necessary post. I would like to add that in addition to respite and other types of help, parents might want to consider the possibility of dual diagnosis, such as bipolar, which can cause aggressiveness and SIBs. Words cannot describe my relief when Nigel was diagnosed with bipolar and treated for it, five years after he first exhibited symptoms of it. I am sure his relief was just as great, because everyone around him has commented to me on how much better he is doing, how much happier he seems. I don’t want to remember how bad things were before we finally got the help we needed. Dual diagnosis and medication literally saved our lives.

  7. I don’t know what to say. Just wanted to let you know I read this and thank you for what you wrote.

  8. I don’t know what the ABC coverage says about how we value autistic people. I’m really not sure. It makes me sick to believe it means society on the whole believes autistic people are not people.

    One thing I’m fairly sure of is this: suggesting the answer to mental ill, desparate moms is to say “”I am thinking
    murdering my child. I am no longer capable of caring for him.” is not likely a solution to prevent future trajedy. That declaration sounds too final. That sounds like the mom will never mother her child again. She might also wonder who *would* mother and love her child in her absence. I don’t know if a desparate mom would see that hand-off as a solution.

    One step from here to there might be to make it possible for a mom to say “I am thinking of harming my child, and I don’t want to. I love him. But I am unable to care for him in my current condition and with the support, services and treatment he (we) has… Please help me get to a place where I can be the mom he needs again.”

    Rest in peace Alex. I am so sorry.

  9. This is something that needs to be heard by everyone. It is NEVER okay to kill your children, even if you think they are suffering. You find a way to get help. That’s what mothers do. I know finding help is hard. I live in the middle of the plains of freaking Kansas and finding help is difficult. But it can be done. You cannot give up. And if you can’t get help for your kid, then you start with help for yourself. Planning to kill your child is not normal. She could have gone to counseling, she could have admitted herself to the hospital. Someone would have helped her so she could have helped him.

    It disgusts me to think that most of society will see these two women as martyrs. It’s not okay to hurt someone because they are different, because their life isn’t what you want it to be. I live in fear that someone will be abusive or worse to my boy because he isn’t like them or because he can’t communicate well. And this article, this news piece seems to portray that behavior to be okay. And it’s not.

    So thank you for standing up, for saying what needs to be said and for sticking to it. Thank you for being a voice for our children and for us.

    PS…I read your blog every day and every day it changes me as a mother; it makes me strive to be better than I was the day before. Thank you for that.

  10. Ugh. As an autistic adult who had a mental relapse and DID ask for help (but I had no money, the agency had no money, I’m too high functioning, too much work back log, et al., et al.) over and over and over – any little thing to ease 1/4 of stress. The psychologist was worried at some point I’d collapse from the strain of my health needs (some not being met due to high cost of insurance) and work. Then they told me my job was being eliminated while I was home alone. My brain broke and I was 30 minutes from dying until the cops broke down the door. Now I’m moving down to FL to be with my mom because I’m shook to the core and so utterly exhausted in trying to manage everything on my own.

    This breaks my heart. Any help is help, and I know too well how budgets are being cut and furthering abandoning a crumbling mental health structure when it is needed more than ever.

    Rest in peace, Alex. I wish there could have been help for you, too. Know that you are amongst angels and, tragically, spirits with the same tales as yours.

  11. It’s not always that easy, though, is it – needing help and finding it. Sometimes help isn’t there, or is too hard to find, or to argue for. Sometimes people are pushed beyond reason and sanity. Of course no-one can ‘sympathise’ with someone who kills a child. But I can bring myself to empathise with the despair that sometimes leads people to terrible places and terrible acts of desperation.

  12. autism is not bad,people make it bad,I have autism i also have children with autiism my youngest classic autism
    don’t get me wrong our lives are not a bowl of cherries and we struggle,but we laugh more than we cry,

    we are people people like you, we are not some”defect” that you can rid your self of because we do not fit into their ideals of what life is.
    Who says being autistic is a bad thing,because it inst
    there is no excuse for this,none,death is not better than autism and they had no right to decide he was unhappy and death would be better

    they use autism like its some excuse to murder and abuse,well it isn’t ,
    we are people people like you, we are not some”defect” that you can rid your self of because we do not fit into their ideals of what life is.
    Who says being autistic is a bad thing,because it isn’t
    you cant kill your autistic child stab multiple times then casually put the knife back in the knife holder.they did not choose a painless death,they stabbed and stabbed
    they can not have a defense of no help,depression mental health or anything else.
    there is no excuse,i have all 3 and i would not kill my children

  13. wow iam stunned reading this post. hard to fathom a parent has it in them do such a terrible act period. I agree it is hard dealing with autism, but its all about how you approach it. its sad to read that services were offered and she refused them. i know its hard to accept help but if it overwhelms you then there should be help. i have an autistic child and i would never venture down this road because im confident of my abilities to deal with it. sadly here in canada we dont have enough services to deal with this.

  14. The saddest part is that this family had been in a hospital for reasons I still don’t understand, just a few weeks ago. And Alex was restrained on a stretcher. In a well-regarded hospital. I fully agree with you. The caregivers failed, but, more importantly, the system failed. This happened in a state ranked at the very bottom of all states for special needs. It is my home state. It is a frustrating system for a family with resources and family support to help. This system held this boy a few weeks ago and did nothing. The system should not now get to place the blame, though deserved, fully on the caregivers. Arresting the caregivers will not prevent this from happening again. The mother will not kill other special needs children. Not fixing the system and allowing a state to close residential facilities, cut insurance benefits, cancel all financial assistance for adults with special needs….. will continue to put people with special needs at risk.

  15. I haven’t been able to write about this, my heart is so heavy. I feel like as a community, we failed them. They did ask for help – back in Feb/March the autism biomed community blew up the airwaves trying to get a GI doc to diagnose a phsyical problem in this boy that the hospital in Chicago refused to test for. And we did get him diagnosed with severe GI disease. The fineprint to DHS taking him was that they were going to institutionalize him with no medical treatment for the GI problem – only antipsychotics. given the choice between having my ASD child institutionalized in pain, or finding the cause of the pain and treating it, i would also take option B. That is all neither here nor there, because, Jess, you’re absolutely right, the minute that killing him became her answer, she should’ve taken him to the police and left him. I’m scared for our society because as this generation autism gets older, bigger, more violent (in some cases), we need to either get the supports in place so this doesn’t happen again, or we are doomed to repeat it.

  16. I join Joy in saying they tried so hard for so long to get help. Dorothy was at her wits end. I in NO way condone killing your child, but she tried and tried and tried to get someone to help her. I tried to get someone to help her when she was in the hospital with the above experience. Nothing. She eventually took him out of the hospital b/c she no longer knew what to do to treat him. I do not know if she turned down any vital services, just that MANY people tried to offer them help. Many people called the hospital, inlcuding myself. Many people were praying and pulling strings and trying desperately to get someone in the system to do more for this family. So, while she failed her son, the system failed her first. I’m not one to say all responsibility lies with others. Her actions speak for themselves, and she will atone for them someday. But, please, look at her with mercy. We cannot judge the pain of someone who is a single mother filling these shoes with no help, not enough money and “supports” whose only “help” appears to be doing more harm than good. I cannot even imagine the amount of anguish or hysteria that would drive someone to this point, just that I know her road was tough. *s she a martyr, no. Alex is the true victim, twice over. I mourn his loss and pray for his soul. Read the following links to get an idea of their story: http://www.ageofautism.com/2013/03/alex-spourdalakis-loyola-medical-center-ineptitude.htm

    • “I cannot even imagine the amount of anguish or hysteria that would drive someone to this point, just that I know her road was tough.”

      I would never discount how tough her road was — nor Alex’s. But she stabbed her own son again and again, until he was dead, then wiped the weapon clean and replaced it in the butcher block from where it had come.

      It was there that she lost my compassion and surrendered any claim to my mercy.

    • I hear you. I hear you and I understand you. The entire system failed and this woman who definitely deserves to pay for what she has done is going to be the only one paying. The system itself will continue on, broken, until we figure out how to change it. I’ve been there… people who have never been there have no idea what it feels like to get turned away from or ignored by the very services that are supposed to help you. If a mother walks into DCF or the police station and says she’s entertaining thoughts of killing her child they will take that child and place that child in foster care where they will be placed with caregivers who (most often) have no idea how to handle this. And this isn’t just for parents of autistic children but also children with mental illness or severe physical illness. Its easy to say she failed as a mother, because she did. Its easy to punish her, judge her, hate her, and condemn her because she did commit this horrible act. Its not okay tell people who are already desperate and panicked to find help without giving them a place to go that is really going to help. It will take all of us to change this system. Until we do, these horrible things will keep happening.

      • sarah, i wuuld be grateful if you would come back and read tomorrow’s post. what you’re saying matters, and it’s not going unheard,

      • I promise not to miss it, Jess. I really only commented on Angel Wing’s reply because I wanted her to know she was heard. I’ve been lurking here daily for years, I know you hear us.

  17. Pingback: It Takes A Village To Kill A Child | Blogs @ redOrbit.com | Ye Olde Soapbox

  18. I just want to say what a moving post this is. I, too, have been devastated about Alex’s death, which is part of a larger pattern of autistic people being killed by their parents and the press focusing on the suffering of the parents before all else. I also want to make clear that while I think we’ve come a long way on both gay rights and disability rights, we still have a long, long, way to go–in both those categories and even in the categories that “came first” such as women’s rights and race rights. I didn’t mean for my talk to gloss over them, only for it to reflect that we have moved in a positive direction. An event such as this one, however, is an agonizing reminder of how very far there is to go. Best, Andrew Solomon

  19. Pingback: Mourning Alex Spourdalakis | Autism Mommy-Therapist

  20. I couldn’t help but weep at this tragedy! Being a single mom (50/50 custody) of two Autistic boys, I have ABSOLUTELY no sympathy for this “mother”!! Zero, zilch, nada!! I have a 13 yr old diagnosed with Aspergers & an 8 yr old diagnosed PDD-NOS. MY (our) job is to teach them, take them to their Psychiatrist/Psychologist appointments, meet with or talk to their teachers often, and help raise them as fine young men! It is not as easy as some would think, there are great challenges, but, the reward when you see growth, is almost unexplainable!! You beam with pride, you hold your head high, and your heart grows tenfold!! This “person” is sick, herself. I, Angie Mattos, was given these children because “my God” knew I could handle the struggles and would do right by these boys! To me, the sickness is SELFISHNESS. When you give birth to a child, or are pregnant with one, you no longer come first! Maternal instinct 101….where were they when that lesson was taught?

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