Have you heard about the tragic life and death of Alex Spourdalakis?
A fourteen-year-old with autism who was hospitalized and had a strong campaign for his care being spear-headed by his mother. I signed the change.org petition. I was outraged, I was upset.
But nothing compared to hearing the tragic news that Alex was murdered in cold blood by his mother.
Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Murdered. In cold blood.
But even worse was some of the reaction, the reaction that said it was understandable, okay even, that Alex’s mother would murder him. Because he had autism.
And that is BS. Is autism a walk in the park? No, certainly not. Was the treatment of her son often wrong and awful? Yes, yes it was. Do either of those things justify murder? No, they do not.
As was said best in a post on Autism Hwy:
…some have decided “others” are not entitled. Like young Alex Spourdalakis. Judging by the things I have read and seen some have determined that Alex would still be alive had the “system” not failed him. Had his mother been given the “supports” she needed. WHAT?
The ‘system’ that failed him was his preeminent source. His Mother. She is the one that seeks out the formula for Alex’s comfort levels as a “severely Autistic”individual. It is a complicated task, I know I travel that HWY everyday with a growing 14 yr. old “severely” Autistic teen. Dorothy Spourdalakis decided that he deserved death. When is it ever appropriate for one human to decide another’s mortality? Never. There are no qualifying answers OR mitigating circumstances. Just stop trying to pretend there are.
It sounds unfair to some ears but it is true. As parents of children with autism, we are their pre-eminent source of everything. And no matter how we are treated, no matter what respite we don’t qualify for, there are NO “mitigating circumstances” that justify our mis-treating our children or murder of them.
And for those of us fighting for awareness and acceptance for our children, this type of behavior should be especially inexcusable. While we are fighting for our child to have an equal opportunity to education, housing and everything else, when one of us goes and murders her son…well, if his mother felt his life is valueless, how should the rest of society view him? With compassion and acceptance or the same way his mother did.
There cannot be a complacent, “well, yeah, she murdered her son, but he was low-functioning,” attitude amongst any segment of society. No, what there should be is a complete intolerance of that attitude. My child can be extremely difficult, her behavior can be embarrassing, she still wears diapers a week from her seventh birthday, but none of that means I can go and murder her because the her diagnosis also means my life will be more difficult.
I feel badly that Dorothy Spourdalakis endured such hardship as a mother and was denied over and over again services her son needed, but I cannot abide the murder of her son as an acceptable answer to that. And I cannot abide any other human being who feels she was justified in her actions.