This week, autistic teenager Alex Spourdalakis was murdered by his mother and godmother. One of the news articles is posted here. It is a truly sad story – Alex has a history of hospitalization – he suffered from gastrointestinal problems along with severe autism: he was unable to speak and often displayed violent rage. Alex’s mother Dorothy brought her son home to care for him with help from his godmother Jolanta Skrodzka. Apparently the women became overwhelmed with all that was involved in tending for Alex full-time, and they decided to take his life by overdosing him on drugs. When that didn’t work, Alex’s mother took a kitchen knife and stabbed him multiple times in the chest and slit his wrist. The two women then attempted to commit suicide with the drugs. They were found arrested and are being charged with first degree murder.
This crime is heinous, but just as disturbing are the comments from the journalists and sympathizers for Dorothy Spourdalakis. She is being made out to be a martyr – the stress of looking after Alex, and the lack of services became too much and she acted out of desperation. One blog commenter actually wrote: “There will be more of these if autism is allowed to continue on its destructive course. I hope justice goes easy on the boy’s mother and his caregiver.” WTF – these women murdered an innocent child who couldn’t defend himself or even shout for help.
True – support programs for children with Autism are severely lacking, and often even day-to-day functioning becomes exhaustive and stressful for the parents of children with the diagnosis. But when you become a parent, it is your duty to love and protect your child. Regardless of social, psychological, emotional or physical impairments. Some of you will say that I never raised an autistic child, and have no idea what is involved in caring for a child with a disability. True, but my young nephew is autistic, and I have witnessed first hand the challenges that my brother and sister-in-law face everyday to ensure his success. Yes – they often have to compensate for shortfalls in the system, but they do so without reservation. Everyday they do what is in the best interest for their both of their children: autistic and not.