Sometimes, in the course of blogging, I come across a story that I don’t know what to make of. Sometimes, it’s a quack or a crank taking a seemingly science-based position. Sometimes it’s something out of the ordinary. Other times, it’s a story that’s just weird, such that I strongly suspect that something else is going on but can’t prove it. So it was a few months ago when I came across the story of Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year-old autistic boy who became a cause célèbre of the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism.
I first noticed the story in early March when perusing AoA to see what the merry band of antivaccine propagandists was up to I came across a post by Lisa Goes entitled Day 19: Chicago Hospital Locks Down Autistic Patient. In the post was a shocking picture of a large 14-year-old boy in a a hospital bed in four point restraints. He was naked, except for a sheet covering his genitals. A huge gash was torn in the bedsheet, revealing the black vinyl of the hospital bed beneath. The boy’s name, we were informed, was Alex Spourdalakis. Further down in the post was another, equally shocking, picture of Alex that, according to Goes, showed severe dermatitis on Alex’s back due to the hospital sheets. The photos shocked me for two reasons. First, if the story was as advertised (something to be doubted always about anything posted to AoA), for once I thought that I might be agreeing with Goes and thinking that AoA was doing a good thing. Second, however, I was extremely disturbed by the publication of such revealing photos of the boy. Undoubtedly, Alex’s mother must have given permission. What kind of mother posts pictures like that of her son for all the world to see? Then there appeared a Facebook page, Help Support Alex Spourdalakis, which pled for readers to help the Spourdalakis family.
As I said, something didn’t seem right.
Now I know that something definitely wasn’t right, but I still can’t yet figure out what was wrong at that time three months ago. What is wrong now is that over the weekend Alex was murdered by his mother and caregiver, stabbed to death, in fact. The murder was carefully premeditated and truly gruesome:
Convinced that Alex Spourdalakis’ severe autism was growing worse, his mother and caregiver allegedly planned for at least a week to kill the River Grove teenager and themselves.
But the alleged murder plot initially went awry last weekend when the stocky 14-year-old didn’t succumb to an overdose of his prescription medications.
After waiting for several hours, Dorothy Spourdalakis, fatally stabbed her 225-pound son four times with a kitchen knife, then cut his wrist so deeply she nearly severed his hand, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday.
His caregiver, Jolanta Agata Skrodzka, later stabbed the family cat with the same knife, then washed the utensil and put it back in a butcher’s block, prosecutors said.
Their suicide pact never succeeded: Both women took drug overdoses, then locked themselves in the bedroom with the slain teenager.
They were found semi-conscious inside the second-floor apartment on Sunday afternoon when Alex’s father and uncle came to check on the teen, prosecutors said as the women appeared in court to face first-degree murder charges.
More details are described in this Chicago Tribune story about the murder. Dorothy Spourdalakis and Alex’s caregiver Jolanta Agata Skrodzka had apparently discussed the plan to kill Alex using an overdose of prescription sleeping pills and explained why they did it in a letter. Apparently they killed the cat because they didn’t want it to end up in a shelter after they committed suicide. We also learned that police had been to the house several times to assist with transporting Alex to doctors’ appointments because “he was big and strong and unwilling to go to the doctor.”
As I read articles and posts about Alex Spourdalakis, going back to March, I had the distinct impression that there was more going on that met the eye. Lisa Goes might have been right. That has to be conceded. But while I occasionally looked at stories about Alex on AoA, they just didn’t seem to pass the “smell test” to me. Something, it seemed to me, was being left out. Neither did a lot of the claims seem entirely credible. At the very least, it was very clear that a highly biased, one-sided version of events was being presented. For instance, Goes claimed that Alex was kept in four point restraints 24 hours a day at two different hospitals, Gottleib Hospital and Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), for 19 days:
According to her, at 14 years of age, Alex has a diagnosis of severe autism and cognitive impairment. He is non-verbal. In October of 2012, Alex began to suffer neurological events that prevented a healthy sleep cycle. He was awake for many hours at a time. Agitation and aggression ensued as a result of sleep deprivation. During this time, symptoms and behaviors that were indicative of severe gastrointestinal distress developed as well. A cycle of constipation, diarrhea and formed bowel movements surfaced and became a chronic problem. On February 16th at 5:00 am, with the assistance of police and paramedics, Dorothy took her inconsolable and highly-distressed non-verbal child to Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois.
Because of Alex’s physical aggression, he was placed in locked restraints. At that time, Dorothy did not know the ER would be their home for the next several days, as Alex lay naked, in locked restraints, suffering bouts of violent vomiting, severe constipation and diarrhea. Neither she nor Alex bathed for the next 13 days while hospital staff and administrators attempted to devise a plan to care for Alex. “He was given Colace for his constipation and sometimes it would take security staff and nurses more than 15 minutes to arrive to help unshackle him so he could use the bathroom,” Dorothy explained. “Alex would scream as best he could when he knew he was going to have a vomiting episode, but security took several minutes to respond so Alex would lay in his own vomit, waiting to be released by a representative of security. He would be wiped down and returned to the same restraints.”
Sure, it was possible that the boy was being abused so horribly, first at Gottleib Hospital and then at LUMC, but it seemed damned unlikely to me, although at the time I had no way of refuting or confirming the increasingly lurid stories being posted at AoA about Alex. Still, I knew that tere are very strict laws these days about patient restraint. The last time I ever had to order four point restraints was over 14 years ago, back when I moonlighted as a trauma attending in, yes, the Chicago area, the same metropolitan area where Alex lived and died. Before that I sometimes had to deal with the restraint of patients when as a resident I rotated on the trauma services at the hospitals where I trained. Sometimes patients with head injuries or severe intoxication would be violent and require restraint. There were always a strict protocol that we followed, even back then. My understanding is that the protocols have only gotten more strict. Restraining a patient, particularly a minor, is not something that is undertaken lightly, nor should it be. To believe the AoA account, we have to believe that a severely autistic teenaged boy would be kept in the emergency room for several days (also very, very unlikely) and put in restraints in an abusive fashion at not just one but two different hospitals, continuing after Alex was transferred from Gottlieb Hospital to Loyola University Medical Center on February 28. Actually, it was three different hospitals, because later Alex was shown in four point restraints at Lutheran General Hospital during his last admission in May. More on that later.
Missing from these stories was a clear and cogent explanation of why Alex was ever admitted to Gottleib Hospital and then transferred to LUMC in the first place. It’s mentioned in some places that Alex was “inconsolable, highly-distressed and suffering bouts of violent vomiting, severe constipation and diarrhea.” I had to look for clues to explain it, and, I must admit, I still remain puzzled. Certainly, this Change.org petition demanding that LUMC provide what Ms. Spourdalakis considers to be “standard medical treatment,” which to her included gastroenterology. Peppered through various reports were indications that Alex had multiple allergies and GI issues. Having observed a fair amount of autism quackery on the Internet, these terms were huge red flags to me that strongly suggested to me the possibility that Ms. Spourdalakis was heavily into “autism biomed.” Another hint as to what might have been really going on comes from reports of a care plan conference on March 12. Allegedly (we only have one side of the story given that the hospital and doctors are bound by HIPAA privacy law not to discuss the case), if Ms. Spourdalakis failed to agree completely to the care plan Alex would be placed in the care of the Illinois Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).
Elsewhere, I found references to demands that LUMC consult with an “Autism Medical Specialist to ensure Alex’s dietary needs were met to ensure his food allergies and intolerance’s were not “aggravating any underlying gastrointestinal or other medical conditions that may also cause adverse behaviors,” which sounds suspiciously like an autism biomed quack. In this post, Lisa Goes described a visit to LUMC with Jeanna Reed of Autism Is Medical, whose website if chock full of standard antivaccine and “autism biomed” tropes, such as a section on mitochondrial disorders, banners asking if autism is vaccine injury, and the like. It’s actually a pretty bare-bones website with lots of bugs, but the intent is clear. AIM is antivaccine to the core, and we already know that Lisa Goes is antivaccine, given that she has been a regular at the (Not-So) Thinking Moms’ Revolution. Indeed, in this very post, Lisa Goes unwittingly portrayed Jeanna Reed as ranting and haranguing Alex’s doctors with pleas to read quack studies and claims that “many of these children present with bowel disease and mitochondrial dysfunction. He could have GERD, duodenitis, esophagitis, ulcers in the small intestines, colitis. How can we know if we don’t test?” This was pure autism biomed rhetoric, leavened with the arrogance of ignorance. When one of the doctors referred to autism as a “mystery,” Goes totally lost it, yelling, “No! No! It’s not. It’s a medical illness that causes bad behavior. All you have to do IS READ*!”
Based on what was in retrospect in plain sight on the antivaccine blogs, it’s hard for me not to suspect that Dorothy Spourdalakis was subjecting Alex to “autism biomed” quackery, that she came to know Ms. Reed and thereby spread her story to the wider autism biomed movement at large. If my suspicions are ultimately revealed to be true, it would certainly explain a lot. Certainly, it would explain why Lisa Goes and AoA rallied to Alex’s cause so enthusiastically. It would also explain why the hero of the autism biomed movement himself, the brave maverick doctor to rule all brave maverick doctors, Andrew Wakefield, visited Alex during Autism One and posted to YouTube on the Autism Media Channel a video making an appeal for Alex:
Note that I’ve saved this video, in case it goes down the ol’ Internet memory hole. Also note that, in this incredibly creepy video (is it just me, or does Wakefield look creepier and creepier each time I see him?), Wakefield stated that Alex was scheduled to go to long term psychiatric care in 72 hours, as if that were the worst fate imaginable. He appealed for funds to allow Alex to be transferred to a facility where he would “get the care he needs.” What isn’t clear is why Alex was back in the hospital again. I say “back in the hospital” because on March 23 his mother published a post on AoA announcing that Alex was being discharged from LUMC. She thanked everyone at AoA, but she also revealed her antivaccine proclivities:
It is during times like this we as a family realize our full potential. We know no one will help us unless we help ourselves. The continued abuse, medical neglect, discrimination and ignorance have to stop. Vaccines have maimed too many already and there are many more to come. The CDC’s latest stats confirm that. We are not going away, nor are we giving up. My son Alex is just one of millions of children and adults who no longer will be silenced.
We as a group have been deceived and lied to long enough. Our children have paid and are continuing to pay the ultimate price because of greed. The health care system has failed terribly. It is our responsibility to continue to bring about change.
Please continue to follow Alex on his journey toward better health. Allow us to be a part of your lives. Our strength will continue to come from everyone and anyone who would like to continue with us. Alex will hopefully get the medical testing he needs but was denied until now. So much needs to happen in order for us ensure his recovery and I still need so much help! Please continue to follow my team of helpers for updates and fundraising efforts. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate and value every single one of you who have gotten us to this place. Thank God for the internet and facebook!
To me, this was the strongest suggestive evidence that Ms. Spourdalakis had likely been subjecting Alex to autism biomed quackery. The language was pure “autism recovery” language. The antivaccine sentiment was there. So was the conspiracy mongering against conventional medicine and big pharma. In another story, I learned that another antivaccinationist and advocate of “autism biomed,” Polly Tommey of the Autism Media Channel was involved, and Ms. Spourdalakis claimed that all Alex needed was “something simple, in the country, where he can run around, get the treatment that he needs so he can get better.” For some reason, however, in May Alex was back in the hospital. When the new reports of Alex in the hospital started coming out, even AoA denizens and supporters wondered what had happened, for instance, on the Facebook post announcing Andrew Wakefield’s appeal. The response from Jeanna Reed:
He’s back in the hospital. The sad truth is that this will be what is left, the only path…unless we start to treat the MEDICAL conditions, provide an appropriate treatment plan and support the families while doing it. A VERY TALL ORDER but one that has to become the norm. Alex does NOT belong in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, this is the only option so many face when all of the above is not available. We did our very best to try and help them, and will continue to do what we can but it’s not enough. We know so many who (if given the opportunity) could heal. So complicated…at the minimum PRAY for them and again realize this could be any one of our children.
I don’t know about you, but if I had seen this at the time it was actually published instead of now, knowing the ultimate outcome, I would have still found the language ominous. In any case, not long after Wakefield’s appeal, Alex was released from the hospital. Andrew Wakefield provided a statement to the Daily Mail after Alex’s death explaining what happened and covering his ass in the process:
On Sunday May 26, members of the Autism Media Channel (AMC) went to the Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. There we visited the late Alex Spourdalakis, his mother Dorothy, and his Godmother. Alex was in four-point restraint and apparently refusing to eat or drink.
His mother was beyond exhaustion and despair. The main reason for her despair was the prospect of Alex being sent to a long-stay psychiatric hospital and heavily medicated with behavior-altering drugs drugs without any treatment of his underlying medical problems.
AMC issued an appeal on Alex’s behalf to protect him from this fate. We did not, at any stage, advocate for his release from the Lutheran General Hospital.
The following day Dorothy informed us that the hospital could find nowhere that would take Alex and that his insurance carrier had refused to pay for any further inpatient care at the Lutheran General Hospital.
It appears that, as a consequence, he was discharged from that hospital despite his precarious position and that of his carers. It is our opinion that Alex’s tragic death reflects the abject failings of a medical system that has no effective answer to the autism crisis.
I should point out right now that I used to work part time as a trauma attending at Lutheran General Hospital from 1997 to 1999. It was a fine hospital then, and I have no reason to think that anything’s changed. Be that as it may, do I detect the stench of self-justification from Wakefield? He’s desperately trying to cover his posterior, but his fetid flatus of blame deflection leaks out anyway. It’s what he does. Wakefield’s fame mongering and conspiracy mongering aside, however, if what he says is true, it does point out another aspect of this tragedy, namely support for parents with children with special needs.
That being said, what’s also utterly despicable is the reaction of the denizens of AoA and other antivaccinationists to the news of the murder of Alex Spourdalakis. For instance, it is not infrequent to see antivaccinationists blame—of course!—vaccines for Alex’s death, the apparent underlying “logic” being that if he hadn’t become autistic because of vaccine injury then none of this would ever have happened. Such “logic” prevails in the comments of AoA posts about Alex’s death, such as this one and this one. For instance:
Though I can’t support the choice these two women made, it isn’t hard to imagine the desperation and hopelessness they were engulfed in. To watch your precious child suffer for so many years and then endure what this past spring brought for them. They fought and fought the beast head on and felt the hatred against them. It isn’t hard to imagine that they were exhausted. All of this happening in America no less.
No, these two women were, as far as I can tell, offered help but refused it because it was standard conventional therapy. From what I can tell from various blog and Internet articles, they appear to have subjected Alex to biomedical quackery and were unhappy that if Alex were transferred to a psychiatric hospital’s long-term care ward he would no longer be able to receive “autism biomed” treatments. Time and investigation by the authorities will tell if that was the case. Whether that is what happened or not, I nonetheless reject the “logic” of such antivaccinationists such as it is, that only makes sense only if you accept the pseudoscience claiming that vaccines cause autism. While one can sympathize with a parent facing the task of caring for a severely autistic child who is very large, very strong, and very difficult to control, as Jo Ashline says, autism is not an excuse to kill your child, ever. As one blogger put it:
So one of the reasons I’m really pissed off is because of the usual [eye rolling] “Oh, he’s in heaven now”. My favorite is the thing that one of the groups that was intended to work towards getting Alex out of the hospital was a letter to Alex in heaven suggesting that he thank his mother for stabbing him in the chest. [Sarcastic eye rolling] “Thank you so much for brutalizing me, it’s my favorite”. Because now, you see, he’s in heaven, which I don’t think exists. And he doesn’t have autism.
Harsh? Yes. But it rings true. The entire narrative of the autism biomed movement is that autism “stole” the parents’ “real child” away from them. Since the idea that vaccines cause autism is basically holy writ for the autism biomed movement, that means vaccines “stole” the real child away by making him autistic. Parents who try to “recover” that “real” child are thus viewed as heroic, rather than abusive, because they’re willing to do whatever it takes to defeat the scourge of autism (and vaccines) in order to rescue the “real” child within. One can’t help but wonder whether what was really happening was that DFCS was going to put Alex into a conventional long term care facility because his mother clearly couldn’t handle him anymore and was treating him with autism boomed. Unfortunately, it appears from what we know right now that Alex’s mother seems to have thought that he would be off dead than not being given access to what she viewed as “curative” treatments for autism. Events and evidence from the investigation and trial might prove that initial assessment incorrect, but for now it seems to fit with what we know. Was Alex collateral damage in this never-ending war by antivaccinationists against autism? Although what we know now suggests that this might be the case, we just don’t know yet. We’ll have to keep an eye on the results of the investigation into Alex’s murder to find out.
187 replies on ““Autism biomed” and the murder of Alex Spourdalakis”
Every time I see this story I feel like I need to vomit.
As sad as it makes me, I’d bet the use of my remaining functional body parts on the vile, callous murderers receiving a non-custodial sentence. After all, we disabled people, or those of us in need of constant care, are burdensome and monstrous. We’re broken, damaged, hopeless. We ruin lives, rip apart families, and leave suffering and pain in our hideously needy wakes.
Haven’t our carers and families suffered enough? And as for us… better dead than damaged, our murders are blessings, joyful releases, gifts to the poor long-suffering able and NT people of the world, who are forced to endure our terrible ugly presence on a daily basis.
They’ll probably get a slap on the wrist for killing the cat though, she was innocent, after all.
And people still claim ableism doesn’t kill, isn’t harmful. They say that dehumanising anyone with disabilities of any sort, through careless use of language, is just “how it is”. They tell us to “lighten up” and “get over it”.
Goodbye Alex. I’m sorry for your loss, sorry that you were abused and exploited by those supposed to love and protect you, aided and abetted by scumbag charlatans who seek to profit from lives like yours.
I found it telling that they killed the cat, rather than letting it go to a shelter.
Apparently they killed this kid because they didn’t want to subject him to conventional medical and behavioral treatment. His hospitalizations were turned into a circus. I’m in Illinois, there are very strict rules regarding restraint. Also, several agencies, including school districts and DCFS, will fund the residential style care if the child cannot be safely managed at home, or the parents are unable to continue caring for them.
Mom was convinced by the quacks that her son has a progressive illness and the only treatment was ridiculously expensive treatments. I wouldn’t be shocked if we find out that this child was receiving chelation and steroid treatment, which can cause all sorts of behavioral issues and distress.
I freely admit that one of the main reasons I choose not to have children is that I would never, never, never been able to take care of a severely disabled child. You are perfectly inside your rights to consider me a monster, but count this:
We aren’t t talking about moderate disabilities, not about problems that can be overcome. As Alex grew older, the probability of him becoming increasing aggressive increased as well as his strenght. I do not condone what they have done, but I can understand it. There are no good outcomes in such a situation.
I noticed in the news reports that the godmother (or whatever) had finished medical school in Poland. Shouldn’t she have known the lethal dose of the pills (whatever they were) for at least one of the three people? To me the survival of the two women suggests that the “suicide attempt” was a sham to get them lesser charges on the premeditated murder.
T – Nobody has said that someone is monstrous for choosing not to have children. I don’t have any, and never will, because it was the right choice in my situation.
It is always better to get to whatever age and regret not having children, than to regret having had them.
That said – how do you know that this was true of Alex:
We only have his mother’s word, and those of a bunch of despicable, amoral publicity-hounds who hate anyone not “normal”. We are talking about people who endorse cruelly restrictive diets, chemical castration, bleach enemas, orally administered bleach, electric shock aversion therapy, and all manner of sickening, wildly unethical “treatments” to
punish autistic children for being born“cure” children
Autism is not progressive, nor is it fatal. It is misguided at best, an outright lie at worst to state that the situation could only worsen. Many young people become more functional as they become older. There are adults today who were entirely non-verbal, doubly incontinent, and presumed to be learning-disabled as children, who have gone on to move several notches up the spectrum. They’ve been able to find employment that engages them, and are able to mediate their symptoms until such a time as they’re safely at home, and free to stim as much as they want to.
Finally, this little nugget:
Now that’s just sh¡te, but I suspect you know that. Read my comment at #1 first, then scroll back here. Murder is never understandable. This was not self-defence, euthanasia of a progressively terminally-ill loved one, it was the well-planned, discussed and conspired, brutal murder of a CHILD because his “mother” did not want her custody revoked due to her biomeddling.
Good outcomes could have included:
Alex moving to a residential school, or to a school where he boarded part time. A group living situation with live-in assistance upon reaching majority, and the possibility of study or work.
Even if none of that were possible, murder was not the answer. He was alert and able enough to knew when he needed the toilet, or to vomit, so he wasn’t the Pet Rock that you seem to imagine he was. He was a person, a child, with unknown and untapped potential. There are parents of children who could never hope to do even that, yet they refrain from drugging them and stabbing them to death in a violent frenzy.
He was exploited, and displayed naked and vulnerable for the world to see, robbed of his dignity, and ultimately of his life, by a movement so disgustingly ableist and perverse that they believe that any child, any person, is better off DEAD than imperfect in any way.
History should have taught us that this mindset leads to unbounded tragedy and horror. It looks like we are doomed to repeat it until we learn otherwise.
Although not an easy decision, if caring for a disabled child is more than a family can handle, there is the option of giving the child up to be a ward of the state. It may not be the ideal situation, but it is a damn sight better than leaving the child in a situation that is bad for them, bad for the carers and leads to a situation like this. There is also respite care available to give the parent a breather, to regather their strength and have time to let the stress go down a bit. There are options. And from reports, services (though unknown of what sort) were offered Alex’s mother, which she refused.
While I can understand the difficulties and challenges associated with raising a severely affected child, I cannot understand the impulse to kill that child in a very, very violent fashion.
I’m still trying to get my thoughts together on this whole thing. Not sure what I’ll write for a post, but I’m trying to take time to let my emotions settle so I can avoid simply ranting.
Wrong. Autism is developmental delay, not developmental stasis. With proper supports, they could be overcome.
I can’t. The mother and alternate caregiver were offered support. They refused it. It took me a long time to learn to put my hand up and ask for help, but I learnt to. That they refused support and then murdered Alex makes what they did unconscionable.
LW – Undoubtedly so
it happens every fvcking time.
They’ll insist it was a suicide pact and that they can’t live without him, in order to invoke pity and ensure that any punishment is light and fleeting.
If the thousands of prior cases are indicative, these “brave women” will be set free and told what a blessing it is that they survived, that they can now go on to lead “normal” lives.
Autistic people, even severely disabled autistic people, can have a very good quality of life with supports. Autism isn’t progressive. There are many state funded residential programs that care for autistic people when their families are unable to.
I strongly suggest reading Kristina Chew’s blog about her son Charlie if you want to get a picture of what it’s like to live with an autistic teenager on the more severe end of the spectrum. Charlie swims, rides bikes, goes to school, and even plays music. Yes, he has limited communicative abilities and sometimes deals with self harming and aggressive behavior. But his life still has meaning, and he is still loved. There are thousands of people who are moderate to profoundly autistic, and there lives are not worthless. With supports and accommodations they can thrive.
Nicole, you have it exactly right and have, in my opinion, struck at the root of the problem. The outcome in Alex’s case and the justifications I am reading about, including the one from t above, are what you would expect from people who see autistic children as damaged goods, not as children with a disability.
This story keeps reminding me of that obnoxious troll Greg. I feel he would have approved of the outcome.
I am no expert on autism and don’t claim any knowledge on it. I am, however, an political science and aneconomist. The basic of economics is the allocation of resource.
Consider this: we have a limited number of said resource to use. How do we use them?
Lets say that using 100 a severely autistic children (I use autistic, substitute with what you want, it works same) could improve to moderate autism. Using the same amount, 10 moderate autistic child could pass to low (in the spectrum diagnosis). Using 5 a particularly talented child could learn advanced math/engineer/insert-it-here.
You have 1500, 5 severely autistic persons, 10 moderate autistic person, and 10 gifted persons.
How do you use your resources?
Lets add another layer to my cold and evil problem:
A severely autistic (or incredibly disabled, to explain, somebody that is and stay not verbal, and unable to perform even basic personal care) person requires 100 of cares and can give no output to society as a whole. A moderately autistic person require 50 and can, say, give 10. A normal person can give 20 and requires 5 (in the form of service). A particularly gifted person can give 100 and requires 7.
However, this is about adult, and in order for the normal (as in, normal distribution) person you have to give them 3 in education for their childhood years -each of it-, while the gifted person requires the aforementioned 5 per year, otherwise their outputs fall to 10 and 50 respectively.
How do you use your 2500 resource counting, say, 5 very low functioning autistic persons, 10 moderate, 50 normal and 10 gifted? How in 1, 5, 10 and 50 years, counting that the rate of disabilities stay more or less costant?
OF COURSE this is a simplicistic problem. But it enlights something true: in many US schools, parents of gifted children (as defined by US standard, not my terminology) laments that program for their kids are being cut due to funding going to severely or moderate disabilities.
It is cold. It is perhaps evil. But it doesn’t make it any less true. A similar problem happens in catastrophe-relief or in helping developing countries. You have little and you must do your best to it.
I have seen people in the situation where they had 1000$ and they had to choose whenever dig a well to give potable water to a village or using it to cure children that were dying. Cold and hard-hearted as it sounds, the best thing to do is digging a well. This maximise the results for the largest number of people. It is the same as the triage of hospitals in battle-situations, as explained by a surgeon, one of the hard ones used to operate while the bombs fall: “You can’t spend 6 hours operating somebody that is not likely to survive anyway, while other 3 people that could have more easily been saved are dying”.
Juggling the right of a single person to have the best quality of life possible with the demand of society to function is not easy. But denying the problem is not good neither. Trying to develope effective strategies for people who really needs them without taking away valuable opportunities for people who need those is one of the great problems of today. And most effective strategies may indeed include the realization that not all people improve, that some kind of disabilities are too profund and a form of palliative care given by experts may be the only choice possible.
As I said, this is aside the peculiar case here specified. I do not know enough of it to make any kind of idea. From what I can understand, what killed this young man was probably the belief of his mother and caregiver that a group home for people with severe disabilities was a bad thing, when I think it was possibly the best thing that could happen to him. This is murder, and it is wrong.
From all that I have heard, some people do indeed loses their diagnosys of autism or improve to less severe form of it.
Not all of them. I also know that there are people who come to an old age not-verbal and unable to take basic care of themselves. If this is not true and you can point the studies at me, I stand corrected 🙂
I seem to remember that 1/4 or 1/5 (25% or 20%) of children diagnosed at 2 lose their diagnosys at 7. I do not know other datas on it… Say, among people who are not-fuctioning at 10, how many are still unable to take basic care of themselves at 20? If you can tell me, I would greatly appreciate it 🙂
T, you’re making an assumption that somehow we do not have the resources to educate and care for these people. We do have the resources. We have more than enough money to fund services, we just like to pretend like we don’t.
And special education budgets are separate from gifted education budgets- you do not cut one to fund the other. Also, gifted children tend to do well with low cost interventions, such as clustering (putting all of the gifted children in the same grade in the same classroom) and whole grade level acceleration. They do not need more services, they need differentiated instruction.
I am making the assumption we don’t have enough resources for everythig, this based on the observation (which, I admit, is completely biased) that everybody is always clamoring that they don’t have enough resource to do what they wish… I am talking about state and governament, mind you. Not on individual level.
Even the kind of programs you propose for gifted children is costly, mind you. Even just in materials. Everything has a price-tag.
All budget came from the same revenues in this: more or less, taxes (not only. Lets say taxes). Defense Budget and, say, Science Grants are I suppose separate, but if you see -10 on Science Grants and +10 in Defense Budget, you can guess what had happened.
I don’t know a thing about how the US budget is partitioned, it may be that it indeed is enough for everything… In that case, my previous analogy is, for the US, invalid 🙂 And the US is very lucky indeed. I know that the Budget of my country is not enough for everything. For one, we would like to do a lot more of space and science, but we don’t have the money 🙁
t., your reason is very utilitarian in approach. That works for some questions, not so much for others. In Alex’s case, it doesn’t apply at all. Services were offered. They were refused.
The other thing that struck me about your reasoning is that (and I am not saying this is what you are advocating) it is a very short step from what you describe to justifying eugenics. If the resources aren’t there, then cull the ones we can’t support until we have the resources available. That extension of the logic scares me.
Yes, indeed. I was musing in general over the problem. In Alex case, it wasn’t so (I didn’t read very well in the beginning, I apologize). They were offered correct services and refused them for crack reasons. It almost look like those cults who clamored for suicide…
I should have put an OT in front of the post, pity I can modify them now!
Saying that utiliatarism -> eugenics is a textbook slippery slope case. It doesn’t, not more than saying that making gay marriage legal would means people will end up marrying their dogs or saying that theory of Evolution leads to Nazism (eyerolls I spent too much time debating creationism). Organ donation in my country is utilitarian: the organs don’t go to the sickest people, but to the people who are most likely not to reject them and to live long after. If there would be enough organs, there wouldn’t be a problem. But there aren’t. This doesn’t mean that we shoot people who need a kidney or a heart, or that we don’t help or cure them. Help and care are given, but the organs may go to somebody else, if that other person has the best chance of living.
Thanks for posting this description of events surrounding AoA and Alex’s death. I had also been following the AoA narrative for months and their stories seemed horrible and yet set off alarm bells as to their accuracy. Like you, I always felt like I was missing a piece of the story. Then, when the news came of Alex’s murder I was utterly shocked. Although we still don’t know exactly what happened, the way you put together the timeline clears a lot of things up.
One of the rationales behind Aktion T4 was that disabled people cost money. Money that could be better spent on worthier things. It’s a valid criticism.
Leaving that aside, you say you’re an economist. As others have pointed out, autistics can lead fulfilling lives. I’m a software test analyst. I’ve been at my current client for more than 3 years working on different projects. Economically, it makes sense to get autistics as independent as possible.
The person who hasn’t been heard from so far is the father, although it is documented that he was involved enough to have called for a well-being check and/or forced entry into the apartment. It seems almost inevitable that custody would have been at issue in the looming divorce case.
I’m very curious as to why exactly Alex as in the hospital in the first place….as Orac said as well. If Alex was so “afraid” of going to the doctor, perhaps he had very good reason…was he going to legitimate medical professionals or was this going to a DAN that was administering Chelation, MMS & other therapies?
T, lest I descend to profanity, let me point out that I was in both the gifted and special education programs as a child. My position on the autistic spectrum didn’t affect my intelligence, just hindered my ability to work well with others and occasionally my ability to communicate. Which got worse when I was under stress, as many things that are difficult do.
And, frankly, if I was told ‘we can give you the special classes and services, or we can show a nonverbal autistic person how to use a picture board and later a computer to communicate without speech’, I’d pick the other kid. Because nonverbal is not stupid and is especially not useless.
I loathe the view of idea of autistic people being viewed as useless, as changeling replacements for ‘real children’. I saw this story first on a number of groups for autistic folks, who, frankly, are spitting nails at the autism biomed movement basically saying ‘no, it’s better that Alex is dead and in heaven than living with autism’.
The most expensive services usually aren’t the best. The services that usually end up being the best are the ones provided in the least restrictive environments that focus on skill building. Supportive employment, therapeutic foster care, inclusive education, community integrated living, sheltered workshops, wraparound services, etc, etc. Plus, all of these are effectively job programs.
And disabled people do not disappear because you don’t provide services. Their families end up providing substandard care (and having one or more members unable to work), and the people end up in hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.
t – Your argument disgusts me. Your argument is eerily reminiscent of one used in the 1930s to justify genocide. It’s similar to one used by governments now, to deny resources and care to people with disabilities and chronic conditions.
If only you had known who, or what, you were addressing. Not that you’d care, I’m just another waste of resources that could be better spent on someone who deserves to live well.
Also, you do realise that gifted children and non-neurotypical children are not monolithic, mutually exclusive groups, don’t you? That’s the problem with seeing everything in terms of money, it’s black and white, no shades of grey.
No doubt the many parents of severely disabled children who post here will educate you further on the flaws in your eugenicist argument.
One last, tiny thing – I promise I will hunt down, and spit in the face of, anyone else who compares gay marriage to other situations. You know what the fight for gay and trans civil rights is like? Nothing else. Stop using it as a shield to defend your sh¡tty opinions.
I am, however, an political science and aneconomist.
I’m not being snarky, t, but having studied economics and one point in my life I know where you are coming from.
That doesn’t mean that I agree with you, but your viewpoint is not bizarre or cruel, from a purely economic standpoint. Were I twenty years younger I might even share your opinion.
However; the closer I get (at age 58) to becoming a consumer rather than a producer of economic goods, the less I see things that way.
I promise I will hunt down, and spit in the face of, anyone else who compares gay marriage to other situations
Give it a week or so, elburto, I’m still fiddling with the sloth launcher prototype.
I’ll also go ahead and note that I’m also involved with one of the Chicago area cat-rescue groups. Had the cat been left to its own devices and placed in the hands of the CPD, yes, it lokely would have wound up at CACC. However, there are other options, as difficult as they can sometimes be to access. They were only a couple miles from Brookfield, which has a private shelter I’ve dealt with before. It could have been arranged.
I found it telling that they killed the cat, rather than letting it go to a shelter.
Exactly. Why kill the cat? It’s not as if the cat had some terrible disease and would be better off dead (not saying I believe that the boy was, just that some people do). They specifically killed the cat so that no one else could have him. I think it was the exact same reasoning for the child: better to have a dead kid then view yourself as a failed mother. They couldn’t cure him, so they killed him.
I don’t see them getting off without any prison time, however. Even though there are plenty of sympathizers, Americans have a fairly brutal reaction to any mother that hurts her child, even accidentally. Violently murders her kid? Even more so. There’s a reason these women don’t fare well in prison.
Sadly, if you want to kill someone and not do a lot of time for it, kill your child. To me this mom should be put away for life, but I’ll bet she gets off light, like this “mom” where I live did for killing her autistic 5 year-old son in an equally brutal way (http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/mother-gets-years-in-death-of-boy/article_49602fd2-d91d-570d-a9be-b9cb5e5477d5.html). For some stupid, sick reason, juries seem to feel badly for these parents, as though that is some excuse for them to kill their child.
@Shay – I’ve got another new chair now! I think I’ll have meth-addled chihuahuas on that one.
We’ve also got a new wheelchair accessible van-car-hybrid thingy* so that when I’m able to get out I’ve just got to whiz up the ramp and into my position as mistress of all I survey.
If you can think of any kick-arse mods for the car then let me know!
*a Renault Kangoo, silver. googling Kangoo+WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle) will yield pics and mod-specs, haha.
[email protected] – as I said above, juries almost never convict a parent/carer of killing a disabled charge.
A site I used to frequent posted monthly lists of the murdered, and of the charges laid (if any) and punishment received (statistically? nothing)
The site owner abandoned the site after receiving death and r*pe threats for daring to criticise able people, and for insisting that advocacy groups be made up of those they were representing, and not gobby parents.
elburto: well, one factor may help ensure they get jail time. They also killed the cat. Not release the cat, not give the cat to a neighbor, not give the cat to the husband, not put an ad in the paper…. To me, it smacks of “if I can’t have him, no one can.” I hope we learn more in the trial, but I have a strong hunch they didn’t really kill him because they felt he was better off dead, but because the mom was going to lose custody of him. Remember, this happened a week after divorce papers were filed, which would’ve initiated custody hearings, and there have been suggestions that the government was in the process of getting the child into long-term care. Was the mom overwhelmed? Clearly. But people have gotten violent when animal control came to take away their abused pets; you think, if someone gets that possessive of an animal they beat or can’t be bothered to feed or groom, how much more possessive can they get over a child?
The child’s autism is a factor, but it could as easily be cancer or any other chronic and disabling condition. That it’s autism, specifically, doesn’t matter. It’s obvious she disagreed with the hospital staff on the correct treatment of her child; if she’s the possessive type, that would’ve felt like an infringement of her parental authority, and boy do we see that particular theme a lot from the antivax communities. AoA didn’t make her like this, but they poured gasoline on the fire, feeding into her possessiveness and narcissism. If I’m getting the timeline right, not long before the tragic end, much more serious threats to her parental authority came up: the potential loss of custody altogether. Now, most parents have healthy mindsets and, although they’ll be very sad to not have their child with them all the time, they’ll recognize their own limits. But like a crazy cat lady with fifty matted and starving fleabags breeding all over her house, this woman couldn’t see her limits, or refused to, and when others prepared to take matters into their own hands, she did what so many other possessive parents have tragically done when they are about to lose custody: she killed him.
Consider the tragic story of Susan Powell, who was murdered by her husband, who didn’t get to stand trial for it since he killed himself right after killing his sons, who had already been removed from his custody but were back for a supervised visit.
And then there was the case rather close to where I live, but over the border in Wisconsin; a man had had a tempestuous relationship with his wife, but after divorcing appeared to finally be getting the anger management counseling he needed. This was enough to trick the babysitter into letting him be alone with the kids, who then had all their throats slit. He called his wife up to brag about what he’d done; she didn’t believe him, since he’d trolled her with lies like that before, but before long she found out that this time wasn’t a lie. He was intending to kill himself afterwards, but lost his nerve, so instead he’ll be living out his days in jail.
And then there are all the kidnappings. Stranger abductions are very rare — but family abductions are not so rare, and it’s very often a non-custodial parent who takes the kids. Sometimes the kids survive. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it ends in an armed standoff, as the abducting parent refuses to let the kids go without a fight. Sometimes they flee the country, especially if one parent is an immigrant able to return to their homeland, which can be particularly difficult if the home country refuses to honor the findings of a US family court. This sort of thing happens so frequently that there is now an international treaty that nations can sign onto to sort out these cases, as normal family law doesn’t cover international abduction. And sometimes nobody knows how it ends, because they’re never found again.
I very much hope the jury isn’t swayed by stories of the mother and godmother’s plight. They had plenty of resources to tap, but they fought with every one. “We were overwhelmed” cannot be an excuse for this clearly premeditated murder. Nor can insanity. They knew what they were doing, and since they talked so much about seeking what they believed to be proper medical care for the boy, they certainly believed there was hope for his case. They just didn’t want to lose control of it. I hope very much that medical evidence is submitted in court; I’m sure that an autopsy will be conducted if it hasn’t already, since we have first degree murder charges here. It’s horrible, and they have got to pay.
The papers were filed in February (by Dorothy). The first court appearance, however, was scheduled for June 20. I’m not getting the impression that it was a tactical move for the sake of better access to state services, although it may have been at the time.
(And, of course, there’s the question who initiated the DCFS investigation that was ultimately deemed unfounded.)
Sad story – and we certainly are not getting the medical professionals’ side of it.
I am uneasy about speculation that quack autism “biomed” treatments may have played a role in this teenager’s illness or in demands by his caregivers. While that could be the case, I think we should leave speculations of this sort to the likes of Mike Adams (who in preying on celebrity deaths, enjoys sharing his convictions that prescription drugs or mainstream medical care were responsible for bad outcomes).
Just so you know the mindset, here is a commenter at LJ Goes Facebook page
O/T…yet another example of NPR Radio in San Francisco promoting AoA, Thinking Moms Revolution and Dr. Bob Sears. I’ve just posted on this blog:
Narad @19 is right: we haven’t heard from Alex’s father, and we should hear his side of the story. I’d noticed in the post that Mr. Spourdalakis was apparently not living with his wife and son. I’ll grant that having a child on the autism spectrum can be a significant source of marital stress (it was a contributing factor in the divorce of one of my relatives). We can only speculate on this point, but perhaps Alex’s autism was a contributing factor. The court docket Narad linked to shows that Mrs. Spourdalakis was the one who filed for divorce, and Orac noted that the state DFCS was allegedly involved (or about to become involved) in the case. Did Mr. Spourdalakis want proper care for Alex, only to be overruled by his wife?
That line about 19 days in the ER also sounds like pure bovine guano to me. The ER is the most expensive place in the hospital to provide medical care, so any patient who would require overnight care would be admitted, allowing the hospital to provide more cost-effective treatment.
In my opinion, the problem isn’t how will we decide which autistics we will help with existing resources but where will we find sufficient resources to help all autistics.
Eliminating the existing tax exemptions for organized religion might be a good place to start.
The cat is better off dead than living without me.
The child is broken so it must die.
I can’t cope so obviously I am saving my children from this horrible world if I take them with me into death.
I don’t understand the mindset, but it does seem to crop up every so often. I think it’s probably a severe mental illness.
Kassiane’s full post and video is worth watching all the way through
I think it’s probably a severe mental illness.
Well, yes. It is.
I’m not a parent, but I am a cat-owner and I’ve endured depression for the majority of my life.
Last year, I hit bottom and decided it was time to kill myself. I also decided that I should kill my cats, too, because my poisoned brainmeat* convinced me that I had mooched off society long enough and that to “foist” the cats off on anyone – even a shelter – would have been further mooching and of COURSE I couldn’t try to re-home the cats myself, in case my friends figured out why I was doing that in the first place. At the time, it all made total sense.
Yep, it’s an illness.
Fortunately, circumstances pulled me back from the brink and the trend’s been improving ever since. And my guilty conscience means that my two little** fuzzbutts have been spoiled rotten ever since.
So, I can almost understand how someone in the screwed-up headspace that has them thinking murder/suicide is a good idea can justify killing their pets, too and, by extension, a child. Doesn’t mean I approve of it, though. shudder
*my affectionate nickname for the chemical imbalance responsible for that lovely state of mind
** LITTLE? Combined weight: 36lbs
I notice that Goes ( the Rev @ TMR) was the most publicly involved : stories about Alex @ AoA first appeared in early March but then, in early May, she produced a Meisterwerk of oddity ( posted at both sites) about her “Two Dreams” in which she narrates a bizarre tale ( dreams) in which a doctor admits vaccine malfeasance (?) after tussling with her in an airport and another in which her children are grown up and the boy with autism is now perfectly non-autistic and a “lady killer”.
The Grand Finale is a farewell to her work as a blogger- her son apparently destroyed her computer and she took it as a not-so-subtle sign: she’ll come back when she is “worthy” of her audience or suchlike. She returned recently. I guess she’s worthy.
I wish these idiots would take their amateur social work elsewhere to a place which didn’t involve the welfare of living children or pets.
I agree, Andy looks creepier and creepier. He and I are about the same age- I look so much totally better-
but then I never ordered unnecessary invasive medical tests for disabled children, committed research fraud or repeatedly sued reporters vexatiously- stuff like that shows in your face.
@Liz Ditz – That post just floors me. What kind of help do they think they provided? They signed worthless online petitions? They jammed the hospital switchboard? The demanded answers?
And the reason Alex didn’t get better? The medical-industrial complex conspiracy! Which must surely crack now that it’s been exposed! Carl Kolchak will do the hard hitting investigation and will bring the whole thing to light! Assuming, of course, that the conspiracy doesn’t murder him, silence him in some other way, or make the evidence disappear with the dawn.
@ t: How dare you come here to spread your nonsense. You don’t know diddly about economics and are using your bogus “credentials” to espouse a subtle form of eugenics. You are describing my son who would never be a “productive member of society”.
My son was born with a rare genetic disorder which caused profound and multiple physical, intellectual and REAL medical problems, along with autistic-like behaviors…not autism. He struggled to survive and succumbed to a natural death, peacefully in his sleep nine years ago at age 28. He was a brave and a happy child and the joy of my life and I miss him terribly.
Alex’s mother never appreciated her child, except for the 15 weeks of fame (notoriety), she received when Lisa Goes a “journalist” for that slimy anti-vaccine organization Age of Autism, plucked the mother out of obscurity by “serializing” the story of Alex and his mother Dorothy on AoA’s blog.
Mother Dorothy allowed pictures of Alex to be published on the AoA blog, showing him buck naked with a diaper partially covering his genitals. Dorothy and the co-murderer reveled in the tawdry publicity and were visited by disgraced and discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield, which was videotaped by Wakefield’s “Autism Media Channel”.
Dorothy and the cranks at AoA claimed Alex was the victim of medical neglect…a baldfaced lie, claimed he was in four-point restraints, 24/7…another baldfaced lie.
Dorothy and the godmother/caretaker are murderers who snuffed out Alex’s life and I only hope that they receive the maximum jail sentence for the egregious harm they inflicted on Alex during the 14 years of his life…and for the brutal manner in which they eliminated him.
Just a clarification, when a child or an adult is placed in residential care, you don’t lose legal guardianship of that child/adult. You must however, petition Family Court for legal guardianship of that very impaired child at age 18. There is a huge amount of documentation required, in order for a judge to award guardianship that includes reports from a physician and a psychologist, to “prove” that an 18 year old lacks the intellectual capacity to make decisions about his/her care.
Mental illness is not an excuse for, or defence of, murder. It’s more ableism to armchair diagnose someone who’s done a horrible thing and write it off as “mental illness”.
Mental illness does not cause murder. Most killers are found to be mentally healthy, and people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
Anyone here with depression? Anxiety disorders? Mentally ill. Anyone here who’s killed or maimed someone? In the single digits I bet.
Please please PLEASE stop throwing around “crazy” or “mental”, and further stigmatising people with mental illness, because BAD and MAD are not the same thing, Bats and cats are mammals, they’re furry, their names rhyme, but you wouldn’t blame bats for scratching your sofa, or cats for nesting in your eaves.
Mental illness does not explain why Alex’s non-parental caregiver helped to kill him, even if his mother was mentally ill.
Being suicidal and planning to end the lives of your pets is nothing like cruelly exploiting your child over a period of months and then planning to murder him.
@Calli – I’m aware of the divorce proceedings, it’s barely relevant. People murder their disabled children all the time nobody seems to understand this. It happens constantly, it’s barely newsworthy in some places, and is rarely punished.
I mentioned the cat above too, saying that they’d almost certainly receive more punishment for cat cruelty than for murdering a child.
As I’ve mentioned before, to anyone who still doesn’t quite grasp the scale of abuse against people with disabilities, it is endemic. People have tried to log cases and failed because there are too many. The harm committed against vulnerable people is all pervasive in society. I shall return with links to individual, but all too common cases.
@lilady – I was hoping you’d read our amateur eugenicist the riot act.
I’m so glad you’re doing better.
Always remember that thinking and acting are not the same thing- despite what the Christians may say- thoughts might lead to actions but don’t have to. Lots of strangeness may transpire in thought-
what you described can be best imagined as an “early warning system” that should alert you that OTHER actions- involving other people- are required. Thoughts aren’t irrevocable, actions can be.
Take care of yourself and those cats: you have much to
contribute- what you said here right now may help others who are in a similar position to that which you were.
This was two people, which I think is important when discussing any mental illness aspect. Also, they planned it, it wasn’t an impulsive act.
Certainly we do need mental health supports for parents and caregivers. We also need leaches like AOA to go away and not feed into any delusional and paranoid thinking.
Denice Walter wrote:
Pictures or it didn’t happen!
Murderer Dorothy Spourdalakis wrote:
One disadvantage of apostasy is that I can no longer read comments like that with equanimity. The Internet and Facebook were invented, within living memory, by identifiable people – direct any gratitude to them!
T, how can you be sure that the ratio is 1500 severely disabled autistics to 10 gifted autistics?
Basic experimental epidemiology would be that the ratio of autistics in the 1960’s would be the current rate of 1 in 88 severely disabled autistics using criteria from 1960 and it’s not the case.
As far as development goes, I also would be diagnosed as Kanner autistic back in my childhood and yet, I am successfully bilingual (native langage: French) and went to university in both language. Remember, autism is not developmental stasis and while it may look like one development is stopping, it’s not, autistic learn differently from the norm and it is using their innate capability to learn that they can develop faster than expected.
Articles tagged ‘murder’ on FWD/Forward:
Please read just one article in the ‘Record of the Dead’ category if you think I’m exaggerating about anything.
Onward, discussion of the r+pe of disabled people, including a horrific comment by user ‘whatjustice’. If any of you read one thing I’ve posted today , then scroll down and read her comment on this post:
Read how the husband who broke her skull praised and pitied for having to put up with her. He’s lionised and sympathised with by her domestic violence support workers in her presence.
People with physical/mental/developmental disabilities are abused and killed every single day, while their tormentors are excused and pitied. It happened to me too over many years, when I was far more able than I am now.
Alex’s death is only exceptional because it was noticed, that it happened at all was not out of the ordinary.
If you want to stand with autistics, there will be a vigil honoring Alex starting at June 16 at 7:00am until June 17 at 10:00pm in EDT (links to facebook).
I think we can agree that Andy logs in at the 90th percentile of creepiness- by chance alone it is likely that I look so much totally better
@Andreas – the same is true for me. I’m pretty sure that the internet is not divine in origin! Thank engineers, techies, men and women.
I am fairly sure, however, that facebook arose out of Hades. Colour me enraged that so many sites now require it, or twitter, to participate.
“I freely admit that one of the main reasons I choose not to have children is that I would never, never, never been able to take care of a severely disabled child.”
OK, so this set of postings has gone off in a strange and disturbing direction, but I do I think this comment is worth visiting. I know of people who decide to have children, and then talk about the ‘perfect’ little child they’re going to have – and all I can think is, what if the child isn’t ‘perfect,’ by your own definition? What if they’re not neurotypical, what if they’re physically disabled, what if they’re just in some way, shape, or form, not what you expect?
IMO, and I really mean IMO, it’s irresponsible to have a child without being prepared to accept and love the child as the child is, which might be something very different from what you envision.
That’s one of the many reasons I made the personal decision not to have children. But I just wonder how much this myth of ‘my child will be ‘perfect” plays into this fucked-up sort of outcome.
i agree with t’s comment.
i understand the opinion isn’t popular with people who have severely autistic/disabled children – but the only responses those people have provided to t’s logical post, are purely emotion-based.
lilady – i’m very sorry for your loss, but even you can’t provide any way that society benefited from pouring resources into keeping your severely disabled child alive for 28 years – only that you loved him and were happy to have him in your life for that time.
the money put into those services doesn’t magically appear – it comes from tax-paying citizens and their businesses, and it is a finite resource. the money spent on severely disabled people – who, without sugar-coating, are of absolutely no benefit to society as a whole – would be better spent improving education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc… for those who are able to put back into the system.
You know, I looked at Wakefield’s house where he is living in Texas. I see the suits he wears. Then I hear of how he may have wined and dined politicians. And I can’t help but wonder if he himself could have done anything to stop this from happening. Could he have given them money from the “Wakefield Justice Fund”? Could he have moved some strings among the people he knows to get the child into a place where he would be better?
I mean, that video was all he could do? Really?
Of course, he may have done more, but I’m 99% sure he didn’t. If he did, it surely would have been broadcast to the world to show us peasants how he’s Jesus and Nelson Mandela (or was it Ghandi?) all rolled into one.
As for the murder of the child, we must remember that many people who fall for the autism-vaccine connection also think of their children as their property, or as children who are “dead” to the world, or both. On the one hand, the government cannot tell them to vaccinate. On the other, the government must help them deal. It’s all convoluted and contradictory, and it makes no sense. This was senseless and wrong on so many levels.
And here I thought it was Al Gore.
It’s amazing how so may people can be preaching to the same choir and singing in it, too. Where is the dissent? There should be some in real science.
What the f**k gives you the right to make a judgement like that? You (or any other able-bodied/neurotypical person reading this post) could be just one car accident away from becoming severely physically or mentally disabled yourself. How would you feel then about being written off as a drain on society and left to suffer and die unaided?
@Edith – I agree. It is an eugenics argument, plain and simple. If you’re not a value to society, then you should be left out in the cold to die (or put down, if you really want to get technical about it).
Stephen Hawkins has been a huge contributor to our understanding of the Universe, but, given his condition I wonder if “Have to Agree” would have just taken him out back and had him shot?
Taking bets on “Have to Agree” being T’s sockpuppet.
elburto @29: new chair, new transport vehicle, good news!
I mention it because it may have factored into her decision process, if it meant that her custody of Alex would be challenged. While it’s difficult to tell at present, like Orac I strongly suspect some medical abuse was going on here — subjecting the child to worthless treatments while refusing effective ones. Remember, of course, that not all abuse of the disabled is because people think they need to be removed or anything equally abhorrent, but because of the caregiver’s pride blinding them to the reality of the patient’s situation. That’s why I brought up cat hoarders; they don’t hate their cats (quite the contrary) but they nevertheless subject them to quite horrific abuse by neglect and ghastly living conditions. Medical abuse can be a particularly insidious form of abuse, and there is a strong element of needing to be in control over the patient. If the divorce proceedings threatened to challenge her sole control over Alex, perhaps she felt she was out of time. “I know how to care for him, you don’t, so I’m going to put him somewhere beyond your reach and then follow him there!” A dreadful line of reasoning, but it’s happened before. And she’ll try and get off by using the pity party for the caregiver of an autistic child, which is disgusting, because it’s just one more example of it being about her and not her son.
Being disabled may make it easier for them to start mistreating them, to stop respecting their individuality. But the disabled are certainly not the only ones who suffer like that. A family recently allowed a child to die of pneumonia becuase it was against their religion to seek medical assistance. As they were on probation following the death of another child the same way, they’ve now lost custody of their other children and are in jail. Time will tell if the second murder gets anything like a reasonable penalty; the first one certainly didn’t. I hope that the brutality of this particular case gets it treated like the premeditated homicide that it is, and that the prosecutor doesn’t accept a plea bargain for lesser charges.
I’ll bet the house on Yes, I got a distinct whiff of dirty socks from that comment.
Have to agree – Take a flying fvck at a rolling doughnut.
Not that I should have to justify my life, or the life of any other disabled or otherwise vulnerable person, but we keep people in work, don’t we?
Also, I’m pretty sure that PWD and their families also pay taxes. I know lilady will have paid enough in her life.
I don’t feel happy about taxpayer money funding religious institutions and unjust wars, thingi with actual potential for societal harm and corruption. I don’t recall hordes of cripples targeting children for molestation, or invading countries in order to blast the citizens to pieces. Somehow it’s easier to blame us for the ills of the world though, isn’t it?
Now f*ck off back to whatever sordid little grief hole you climbed out of. Yes yes I’m only one of those worthless, better-off-dead people, but at lease I don’t exist purely to illustrate the meaning of the word ‘arsehole’, and to prove that Aktion T4 would be lauded by many people, if only from their anonymous hiding places online.
Nope. Unless he’s using a proxy I don’t think it’s a sockpuppet. I will, however, monitor. They always give themselves away sooner or later.
Calli – disabled people are easy targets because we’re dehumanised. I’ve been saying it in this thread, in another this week, and for years here that the likes of AOA dehumanise PWD and non-NT people with adjectives like “broken” or “damaged”.
They insist that parents have been robbed of their “real” children, that the real children can be brought back by hurting the child in front of them. Those children are rendered as objects, as things, who are broken beyond repair. Better off dead than autistic. Other children are better off dead of VPDs than “vaccine damaged”.
The Nazis dehumanised disabled children and adults, and it led to Aktion T4. They used the same language as AOA and t and it’s sock up there to accomplish genocide. Oddly enough very few people are aware of Aktion T4, even self-professed ‘history experts’. Why is that, do you think?
As for “they think they’re doing the right thing” argument, I don’t care. If I hit you with a car the outcome is the same, accident or not. Alex is dead, good intent or not. Intent is not a magic word, except to those wishing to excuse their actions.
I am tired of ableist arguments, of being described as a drain on society, and of neurotypical and able-bodied people justifying the unjustifiable. I have suffered so much more prejudice because of my disabilities than because of my sexuality, and I’m one of the lucky ones. I live in a country where thousands have died after having their funds cut off due to their status of ‘unworthy’. That has been accomplished by dehumanising them, us, and then making excuses for it.
@Liz – some Muppet drove into Other Mrs elburto and wrote off our lovely little car. Thanks to some internet cleverness I got a reconditioned WAV and an ex-display electric wheelchair for £3100 in total, hurray!
Birgit Calhoun is a real person who’s been posting about Alex and his mother for months.
Birgit and her pal Nora from AoA, have posted their fact-free, citationless comments and have a running dialogue on the Slate blogs as well…sorta like sh!t on a goose.
Wanna go a few rounds with me Birgit?
Stephen Hawkins has been a huge contributor to our understanding of the Universe, but, given his condition I wonder if “Have to Agree” would have just taken him out back and had him shot?
Not to mention FDR, who led us out of the Great Depression and through World War II, during which we fought against a government that had exactly that policy. Or the far too many soldiers who go off to war and come back maimed (once we commit to fighting a war, we commit to taking care of such people as part of the cost of that war, and it continues for decades after the shooting stops).
“T” and “Have to agree” have derailed this thread–but they need to understand that there is a reason the sort of policies they advocate are considered evil, and not just by people of a religious bent.
the money spent on severely disabled people – who, without sugar-coating, are of absolutely no benefit to society as a whole – would be better spent improving education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc…who are able to put back into the system
You seem to be presuming that people represent fungible economic assets rather than living breathing human beings, and that their ability to economically contribute to society is the only measure of their worth. Why?
You seem to be presuming that people represent fungible economic assets rather than living breathing human beings, and that their ability to economically contribute to society is the only measure of their worth. Why?
i understand the opinion isn’t popular with people who have severely autistic/disabled children – but the only responses those people have provided to t’s logical post, are purely emotion-based.
Do you see emotions or data in my post? I don’t, I wrote it without any emotions and striving to as many fact as can be.
Edith Prickly – I, for one, have a detailed Advance Decision Directive that will hopefully ensure that I am indeed “left to die” if “one car accident” should convert me from a publishing researcher, family breadwinner, and loving friend into a nonverbal, bedridden vegetable and crushing burden to my family. And I have a spouse who has sworn that if my wishes were not respected, he’d put a bullet in what’s left of my brain. Some people can be severely physically disabled and still engage in meaningful intellectual activity. Some people can be quite mentally disabled and still enjoy human relationships and do useful manual work. Someone who is able to do nothing but lie in a bed all day, getting flipped like a pancake every few hours, simply is NOT contributing to society and IS a drain on resources. I don’t object to such uses of resources so long as the person being so maintained is happy and not suffering. However, I question how often it is possible for a human being – normally an active social animal – to be consistently happy in a state where he enjoys little if any autonomy, voluntary activity, or ability to relate to other people. Perhaps those born with tragic handicaps don’t know what they’re missing, but how is it that a person who has had those things would be eager to go on living if they were taken away?
Jane, You’re free to have any advance directive you want but how can you be sure that autistics in general and Alex Spourdalakis in particular are:
Someone who is able to do nothing but lie in a bed all day
Perhaps those born with tragic handicaps don’t know what they’re missing
Do you have any data to present?
“At that time, Dorothy did not know the ER would be their home for the next several days, as Alex lay naked, in locked restraints, suffering bouts of violent vomiting, severe constipation and diarrhea. Neither she nor Alex bathed for the next 13 days while hospital staff and administrators attempted to devise a plan to care for Alex.”
Yah, I’d say there was a control issue.
Should we as a society deny resources to anyone, who for any reason cannot contribute some benefit to society equal to or in excess of the resources they consume?
Once someone is no longer able to be a productive worker due to age or injury, do we just cut them off? After all, from that point on they’re just a drain.
Isn’t it funny how the people worrying about the money society spends on severely disabled people don’t seem to have any qualms about spending such as giving seven figure bonuses to executives for running a company into the ground, the billions the federal government gives the (highly profitable) oil industry every year, the small fortune the federal government gives big agribusiness through the Farm Bill, I could go on. Apparently spending millions and billions on that kind of stuff is fine, but providing care to those who “don’t contribute” is a problem.
Thank you so much for putting this all together for me. You put it into the right words, and time frame. This story has bugged me from the start too – but my attempts to get further info from AoA were of course, ignored. You did a fabulous job. Thank you.
@jane – you deciding that you want to end your own life in the event that you become comatose is very different from making a blanket judgement that all people with severe disabilities would be better off ending their lives that being a “drain on society.”
In addition, if we take your argument to its logical conclusion, why should anyone even bother to pull you out of the car wreckage? It would be a waste of resources to transport you to the hospital and find out that you’re going to be permanently disabled anyway, so why not just leave you there and let “nature take its course”?
Well, there’s a tall order. Say, “Have to Agree,” what have you yourself done that has benefited society as a whole? No need to be coy; tell me what you’ve done for me lately.
Ah, but it isn’t that the people with sever disabilities would be better off ending their lives, it’s that the rest of us would be better off if they ended their lives. More resources for us able-bodied folks.
@ Have to Agree: And, I “have to disagree”. Have you actually read what happened to Alex, whose mother plunged a knife into his chest repeatedly, then damn near cut off his hand so that he would bleed out? Did you read Orac’s blog and how the mother became a tool, used by anti-vaccine, anti-science groups…who fed into her paranoia?
Smug one, would you deny anyone born healthy who became severely disabled due to a motor vehicle accident or because of a disease process, because they didn’t have the resources to pay for care? Can you guarantee that you will never need care provided by public tax dollars?
BTW, I paid “dearly” to keep my child on private insurance and I paid the extraordinary “major medical” yearly deductibles, as well. I also paid for my child’s twice weekly physical therapy sessions for the 28 years he survived, which were not covered by my private insurance carrier. Do the math genius…more than $ 300,000 for physical therapy alone. Had he survived me and my husband, a fully-funded “special needs trust” would have generated enough income to pay for his yearly medical costs, not covered by insurance.
The reason why I chose to work as a public health nurse, is because I firmly believe that the uninsured and those who are on Medicaid, and, who aren’t “productive members of society” deserve good medical care. But then, I was always a “lefty” when it comes to caring for the most vulnerable members of our society.
I’m guessing you are terribly ignorant when it comes to macro economics and that you a libertarian.
I don’t feel that I need to justify my knowledge. I could give citations but I won’t. It’s useless among people who are so superior.
The key to resolving this argument is to convince people that paying taxes is a good thing. Then we don’t have to worry about the finite resources issue. Right now, the situation is both that the resources often aren’t there, and that active eugenics isn’t happening (slippery-slope arguments to the contrary).
I posted yesterday about a case where the jurisdiction in question actually refused reasonable accommodations to parents, citing lack of resources, which in that case is absolutely down to the anti-tax mentality of the jurisdiction in question. (In Canadian law, “reasonable” has a legal definition, but further, I don’t believe a residential institution 300km away from parents who want to be actively engaged in their child’s life and have specifically asked for home respite care is “reasonable” in any sense.)
I think we have an obligation to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves, for whatever reason, which means that we need to be prepared to pay for it. That’s where the issues arise — many people are not prepared to do so, for no other real reason than that they think people should either be self-sufficient, go elsewhere, or die.
Got nothing, huh? Why am I not surprised…
“I don’t feel that I need to justify my knowledge. I could give citations but I won’t.”
Right, Birgit and I could sing Opera at la Scala but I just won’t. You might not feel the need to “justify” what you call knowledge but people are asking you to because it seems you don’t actually have any
What no one seems to notice is that caring for people who need high levels of care requires workers – if we’re going to just brass tacks of it – disabled people just being alive keep others in employment.
I hope the police investigating this case look for a copy of Mr Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard. This is the book which begins with a long account of how a mother kills her child.
Wakefield involved himself in this boy’s case, and it’s a reasonable question to ask. Did he give the mother the idea?
Economists deal only in tangibles. This discussion should be all about the intangible. There is a benefit in a human life that far exceeds any profit it might earn. Oddly enough, at least given Alex’s story, the word “humane” actually used to be the same word as “human.” Kindness is its own reward (and no, I’m not parroting some frickin’ religious thing); it does more for the giver than for the receiver.
On a different thread, when I was in private veterinary practice, it was not unheard of to have someone (never a regular client) ask if I would euthanize their animals because of some stupid reason (they were moving, the husband was tired of it, it got too big, it wasn’t cute anymore), but nobody else in the world could love it like they did so they couldn’t go to a shelter. I always said no and some of them would tell me I HAD to do it if they said so. Makes my blood boil still!
This is excellent – What About Alex?
This entry, from one Pam Dyles, is a nice touch:
“I hoped the family asked for an autopsy. With all of his gastro issues that spawned him into the hospital, it would have confirmed that he did not receive the care or medical treatment that he deserved.”
There’s yet another curious item, but it’s going to have to wait until it doesn’t matter.
What my mind keeps wandering back to as more and more info is released is that Dorothy could have had Munchausens and been intentionally making him sick which is why she declined help and was so against inpt psych. She thrived on control and attention from media reports and personal ones.
Citations for what? You’ve yet to craft anything with a semantic payload in the first place.
Indeed, that’s the rotten heart of that argument, isn’t it?
True, but the people who make the scarce resources arguments don’t actually care about keeping people in work. They just don’t think they should have to pay for others to get services they don’t personally need (yet.) “drain on society” really means “drain on ME ME ME.” I am perfectly fine with paying for other people’s care because I may need it someday myself and because that’s what a f**king civilized society does for people who need help to care for themselves.
Hello lovely Autismum! I pointed it out up there in my reply to ‘Have to Agree’, but it bears repeating.
Doctors, nurses, carers, support staff, OTs, teachers, transport workers, healthcare assistants, manufacturers of mobility/accessibility equipment, benefit agency staff, pharmaceutical companies, chemists and their staff, makers of hygiene products like nappies and bed pads, car dealeRs etc etc. all in work because of useless pancakes like me!
Now somebody flip me, I’m almost done.
Cwtches to you and Master Pwd, who has more worth in his earlobes than some of the eugenicist filth in here have in their entire bodies.
and lilady – anyone who pushes buttons and then declares that emotions are not welcome in this debate, is not someone fit to share space with people like you, Autismum, Chris et al.
Oh, and evil socialist that I am, would like to add my voice to the “Taxes are awesome, and necessary for life in a humane, civilised society” chorus.
Love and cwtches right back, Eburto! and yes, the Pwd’s earlobes are lovely just like the rest of him (he’s singing the Charlie Brown theme tune in the bath atm – Dad’s looking after him)
I would have liked to post something snarky, or clever, or impassioned here but I can’t.
I can’t help thinking that a small shift in whichever genes put me on the autism spectrum might have put me in Alex’s shoes. I have to go now. The tears are not good for my keyboard.
From Lisa Joyce Goes’s Facebook post, by someone named Dana Dunagan Waldrop
I’m guessing that Birgit Calhoun is a mercury-fixated, citation-less troll…
Ha! Martine FTW! Disabled people are job creators! Economic paragons! Shall we have politicos who cause job loss and bankers who cause economic crashes shot eugenically for negative fiscal contribution? No, because a person is not merely an economic function. Now kindly stop speaking monstrously.
Elburto mad love- how can we connect?
This sad story has been permeating everything in my life lately, from blogs I frequent to facebook posts and reading the story just makes my heart sick. Sick for Alex and the torture he had to endure because his care givers were too blind to see he was their ‘real’ child and THEY were damaging him, not autism.
How can any parent murder their child and in such a brutal fashion? If it ever got to a point, where I was too physically impaired or emotionally weak to care for my son, I would give him to a family who had the means beyond what I have to care for him the way he needs. What does he need as a child with autism? The same thing any other child needs; love, acceptance, encouragement and security.
Why was Alex repeatedly placed in ER services with severe diarrhea and vomiting? One guess would be MMS. He was clearly in distress in the videos we were allowed to see. His aggression toward his care givers and reluctance to go to doctor’s appointments was probably his only way of telling them, “Stop this shit, you’re killing me with it!” But since he was non verbal, his only means of communication was to lash out and become aggressive.
It is the fault of these care givers for not presuming competence as they should and attempting to find a way for him to communicate what he needed, wanted and felt. It is the fault of these care givers that Alex is no longer with us today to be given a chance to find his voice and prove to the world how much he really had going on and let us all get to know the person he truly was. Rest in peace, Alex and may your murderers burn for what they did to you. They deserve nothing from us but contempt and disgust for what they subjected you to and ultimately did to you. Our hearts will forever be with you and your story will stand as a reminder of how damaging and dangerous the anti-vaccine movement really is to real children.
I am not disagreeing with that. Just explaining why I felt the divorce proceedings were relevant. You have not explained why you think they aren’t, so I’m not sure why I’m the target of your rant. What you say is true; it’s just . . . well, I’m not sure where we disagree to the point where I deserve a rant. Do you think it’s mutually exclusive for the mother to be dehumanizing her son to the point where she decides he’s better off dead and a possessive, narcissistic freak who’d rather kill him than accept she can’t care for him anymore? Because it isn’t. My contention is that she’s both. Exactly the worst sort of person to fall into the AoA rabbit hole, really.
LOL Liz Ditz: love it. Doesn’t everyone believe that? Aren’t we all just pharma shills? 😉
The “natural makeup” one is a winner. I wonder if it would be possible to get her to fly off the handle about Dutch process cocoa.
Orac TY for this awesome post!
Read elburto’s posts above for an idea of how it happens. She’s got a lot of examples of disabled people being abused and killed, sometimes in even more violent ways.
They had probably become accustomed to Alex not communicating in a way they understood; rather than try to understand, they concluded he couldn’t communicate and so filled the void with their own presumptions. I don’t think they were so angry that they attacked in rage; that does happen, and as horrifying as it is, it may be less inconceivable than this cold, calculated, premeditated murder. They wanted to be sure he was dead.
I think his mother had probably bought into the “warrior mommy” picture painted on AoA. It’s not about the son, it’s about her suffering as she struggles to deal with his challenges. Very self-centered; the son becomes not a person anymore but a prop in her own personal drama. So when his condition gets beyond her control, she isn’t willing to hand him off to someone else, because that would mean surrendering her warrior mommy image. So she asserts her control in the most final, absolute way possible.
What puzzles me a bit is the collusion with the godmother/caretaker. They must have been feeding on each other, building one another up as warrior mommies. This wasn’t a hopeless situation, except insofar as it concerned their pride. That was more important to them than anything else, I suspect.
Regarding MMS: yeah, that’s certainly a possibility. Horrific, but yes. I’m hoping the autopsy looks for evidence of that sort of thing, of ongoing medical abuse by his caregivers. Because I am quite certain this was not the first bad thing they did to him.
Is it wrong that I am more upset that they killed the cat than that they killed the child?
That they killed the child is tragic, criminal, and wrong. But on a gut level, I’m more upset that they killed the cat.
“Is it wrong that I am more upset that they killed the cat than that they killed the child?”
It’s not only wrong, it makes me question your entire system of values.
http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/autistic-community-vigil-in-memory-of.html A Facebook, autism friendly online vigil to mourn the loss of Alex, if anyone is interested in joining us.
Every so often someone re-ignites my faith in humanity.
Today it’s you.
Please carry on.
@Mike – yes, you are a horrible person.
Calli , I didn’t say they were irrelevant, but barely relevant and a mere excuse. Would she have murdered an NT child in the same situation? And if she did, would she be regarded with pity, sympathy and regret? No. She’d be the focus of universal anger and revulsion.
That’s why the divorce just isn’t as relative as the autism. Children of divorcees are not things to be pitied. and aren’t systematically abused.
You know what too? I admit 100% that I’m biased as hell, angry, and upset, and I doubt my reasoning is up to par. That’s because people have admitted here, in person, and elsewhere (government, media etc) that the world would be a better place if I was euthanised. I am someone who is stealing food from taxpayers’ mouths, scrounging from the state, and using up resources I do not deserve. That’s all straight from the mouth of my country’s Prime Minister BTW.
Alex is dead, and his mother is a hero to some. If she’d killed an NT child over custody post-divorce she’d be stoned in the streets and called a monster.
Fvck this, I’m repeating the same stuff everywhere oveR and over, being mired in the same damn arguments because I think that murdering a disabled child is because of ableism, the same ableism that blights the lives of so many people I love, the same ableism that has stolen people I loved.
ORD – Hugs.
Lara – That’s because your son is someone you love, not someone you hate because he’s not your “real child”. Your son, to you, is your adored child, not his diagnosis.
Thank you for loving him.
High-fives for Grace, and welcome to RI!
Autismum – that kid of yours knows how to have fun! I miss baths, when I can have one again it’ll be a four hour-job, with snacks, mood lighting, and Moz and RuPaul songs turned up so loud that the bath vibrates. Wahey!
the money spent on severely disabled people – who, without sugar-coating, are of absolutely no benefit to society as a whole
Oddly enough, that’s how I feel about economists.
I think I’ll have meth-addled chihuahuas
There is some other kind??
Hoo boy, is it ever. The alties all think mineral oil and petroleum jelly are Satan’s moisturizers. The fact that petroleum is also a “natural” substance is completely lost on them.
Mike – you have no worth.
Rich – cheers! I may be a benefit-scrounging, crazy, fat, crippled dyke, who has spent (bloody hell!) sixteen months in one spot and resembles baby Mirth* from Mork and Mindy, but I still fight like a trapped cat. My claws still work amazingly well, after all, I have all the time in the world to file them.
*Better quality nappies and more hair though. I don’t have the dungarees, but I’m trying hard to convince Other Mrs elburto that my debut into society, as a full-on crip, should see me dressed in a cow kigurumi, with my hair in bunches.
She’s stopped laughing so hard at my plans that she becomes cyanotic, so I think I’m onto a winner.
@hdb- elburto Conglomerates and Holdings tested crack and straight up methamphetamine on the bitey little rat dogs. They retained too many teeth and became lethal, rather than just dangerous.
Also, crystal meth helps them to stay awake for longer. A bonus in our 24 hour society, no?
Huh . . . You know, this is probably the last place I ever expected to be called “a horrible person” for expressing something.
@Mike – just expressing my opinion.
You’re a benefit scrounger? Damn it, I feel that dog-whistle calling me! Here was me thinking you provided value to society, like any other human being, but now I realise that my political masters have the right of it and that you are nothing but a waste of economic space fit only to be eliminated* as soon as possible.
*Note for the satirically thick: fuck off and die.
from Dana Dunagan Waldrop:
re foraging for medicines ” just like our ancestors did”
The time: 713 AD
The place, a bog not far from the sea
Male ancestor: Can you find me something for my sore back, dear AElbertdred?
Female ancestor: Try some of this willow bark, it should do the trick nicely.
Male ancestor; I don’t want that , it’s crap! Can’t you get some of those juniper berries and let them sit for a while and rot- I LIKE that!
FA: No, it’s willow bark for you.
MA: but I feel nervous too- how about some of those red flowers, they’re really good!
Or Goat Weed? That was fun!
Or better yet, let the rye stand around in the damp for two weeks- the last time I ate that I saw wonderful things!
J-sus was flying around with pink and lavender angels and the witches were riding broomsticks with two headed cats and DRAGONS chasing them!
Get me some of that again…
who, without sugar-coating, are of absolutely no benefit to society as a whole
How much sugar-coating do you need to put on a person before they become beneficial? Asking for a friend.
Umm…If we look carefully at economists arguments, there should be no taxes and everyone should pay for every services. Just imagine if everyone paid their kilometer of road, we’d have renting fees for every kilometer of road there is. Just imagine having to stop and pay a fee for every kilometer of road…..Oh you mean you’re not against taxes for these case…riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight; where do we draw the lines. public transit maybe, oh yeah, I have a car and thus I shouldn’t pay for public transit :). Fine, Let’s have more cars on the road (one for each productive member of family). Can you spell 6 hours of parking time on the road each morning and afternoon. Oh, we need 12 lanes boulevard and 20 lanes highways (remember, it’s a bus for every 70 cars) Fine, let’s relocate houses & buildings. You can’t drive, ask your mother (young child) or die in a fire (70 years old grandpa). News headlines:
USA Life expectancy dropped to 55 years old due to eugenics of old peoples
Must be how economists create job security, by rationalizing everything there is to be rationalized.
Look, all the economists here, I’ll believe you can create good policies when and only when you goes through the Engineering System PhD at MIT. That should at least open your worldview.
Mike – if I’d expressed concern for the perfectly good mattress they ruined – ruined! – by soaking it with blood, I’m sure I’d be considered horrible as well. Though i suppose it’s possible it had a plastic liner, in which case it might not have been ruined. Unless the liner had a cut in it.
This went badly.
It is not good to have more of a reaction to the soiling of a mattress than the killing of a child. Likewise, it is not good to have more of a reaction to the killing of a cat than the killing of a child.
Alain – what economists are you reading? That’s not what any I’ve ever read say.
I’ll just say, the fact that they killed a cat for apparently doing nothing made me upset.
But the way that the killed Alex, in such a brutal and merciless way, makes me sick, a heck of a lot worse than the way that they killed the cat.
@Denice – have I told you lately that you are a slice of fried gold? I am feebly throwing little tiny internets for you.
Meph o’B – I used to read hardcore libertarian fora, just for sh:ts and giggles. Alain’s satire would fit in unnoticed in some places.
elburto – I’ve certainly seen blogs and op-eds that would go that way (and much further). I’ve not seen writing by actual economists, much less by the bulk of same. I’ve read items from fairly conservative economists; none has come close to what Alain said.
Not that there aren’t any (I’ve not done a LOT of reading of economists)
@Lawrence: That’s fine. But you’re making a judgement of me as “a horrible person” based on my statement. Again, this is the last place I’d expected to be judged for saying I was more upset about one thing than another.
@Mephistopheles: We weren’t talking about a mattress. And I didn’t say I had more of a reaction to them killing the cat than the kid. I said I was more upset by it. (You did note that I considered them killing the kid tragic, criminal, and wrong, right?) With the kid, I could at least see a -reason- for their actions. Messed up and wrong though they were. But the cat?
shrugs Noting the judgments, I’ll keep personal opinion on things to myself in the future.
@people commenting at Mike,
Part of me (as an Aspie adult), if i’m brutally honest feels similar to Mike.
It is wrong on all levels that the child died; wrong that they didn’t get the support they needed, wrong that people think we are worthless.
But yet, as someone who was openly refused a job as an accountant because I was “autistic” , who in my current job is on special measures and watching because i’m “autistic”, and who wasn’t diagnosed until post uni, at which point the NHS’ attitude was “by the way your autistic, you probably won’t have a partner, children or a mortgage-deal with it”. One maybe thinks he has been spared a lot of heartache that will probably end with him dying young anyway.
We can all rage all we want about how terrible the treatment is, and as an ex scientist it is sickening, but its not exactly a bed of roses being the forver alone adult aspie either. Little wonder these poor pitiable parents leap at any straw held out by those despicable sellers of broken dreams.
I’ll give someone like James Heckman and his nagging of the Booth (né Chicago) School about that pesky “empirical results” business some credit.
elberto – I’m sorry I’m not fried gold as well. However, I do bask in the glory of being mentioned in the same response as the lovely and talented Denice Walter who is, as we all know, the Dark Lady and one of Lord Draconis’s special, er, favorites. And by the way – the Great Echidna continues to flourish and, much like Spiny Norman, is now about about twelve feet from nose to tail. The local termite population has dropped to an alarming level and we have been forced fo wander the countryside in search of fresh grub.
Mike – I’m unclear about the difference between “more of a reaction to” and “more upset by”. But they, I did not call you a horrible person.
And, yes, I did misspell “elburto” and I am indeed sorry for it. My most humble apologies.
Maybe she wouldn’t have, but plenty of women would, and have. The divorce really might have been the event that turned her from using him as a prop in her mommy-warrior fantasies, to killing him.
I agree with those who wonder if Alex suffered medical abuse at her hands. I find it hard to believe someone who hated her son enough to drive a knife into him repeatedly and all but saw off his hand, restrained herself from abuse prior to that.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve done some cat rescue in my days, and I found this additional detail on top of the already known murder to be particularly galling.
And, if I may be cold-hearted, it was pretty selfish to reserve the leftover sedatives for themselves while leaving the cat with nothing but the blade.
I completely agree with everything you said except the part regarding vaccines, because vaccines can and have caused serious adverse reactions just like any pharmaceutical product. The jury isn’t really out yet what autism is so therefore, we cannot say with certainty what causes it, contributes to it or what does not cause it or contribute. However, this biomedical movement, which I have been following for 8 years having a child myself with moderate level autism has grown out of control. Anecdotal cures spread like wild fire. It is easy to understand how some parents faced with many challenges can be tempted to try alternative treatments with the lack of mainstream treatments. Yet, a portion of this autism community has gone to a complete extreme believing main stream medicine is evil and biomedical treatments are the only answer. They are feeding off each other’s emotions and propaganda. I think the issues are extreme on each side. To say vaccines are always 100% safe is erroneous. To say vaccines cause all autism is also erroneous. To say hospitals are evil is erroneous. To say all biomedical treatments is a joke is also erroneous as some parents do find some supplements to be helpful even if not a cure. I completely agree that what these particular “autism advocacy groups” did was irresponsible. They did not have the qualifications or right to meddle into a situation so serious. In my opinion, this young man should never have been released to go on an experimental “biomed mission”. That was very poor judgment. This “movement” has gotten out of control. Please do not let a few advocacy groups represent all autism parents. It is only a small portion that are extremists like they are. Thanks for your article and letting us share opinions.
I love my cat and have loved all my pets. I like to think I’d never kill my pet in a less than humane way. The two times I’ve had to kill my pet in a (hopefully) humane way (at the hands of a veterinarian), I’ve cried inconsolably and felt guilty for months afterwards.
A pet is property, not a person.
It was pretty selfish to reserve sedatives for themselves instead of giving them to Alex too, and then using the blade on themselves. But that might have come too close to real suicide for them, and anyway they’d rather knife Alex than mess up their own wrists.
@Mephistopheles: Indeed, you didn’t call me a horrible person for my comment. I do appreciate the difference. As for the difference, it’s a range of emotions from shock, dismay, anger, sadness, etc. Different reactions to different acts.
I can, at least intellectually, understand the parent of a severely disabled child wanting to end what the parent perceives as suffering on their child’s part. It’s not the path I’d have chosen myself, but there are times when there’s a case to be made for euthanasia. I can’t, however, understand why they’d kill the cat.
Maybe I’m just more sensitive to killing an innocent pet. All of ours have been rescues of one form or another, including my aged Border Collie who was begged from a local shelter to save her from being put down the next day.
Great article. These women very much want the spotlight and I believe they thought this was a way to push the narrative forward. The issue is that all of the anti-vax people are lumped in with these wackos from AIM, etc. They give so many a bad name. There are many who choose not to vax for various reasons and can’t stand this lot. It’s not all one in the same.
The subtext here is “pre-emptive cognitive dissonance reduction” — laying the groundwork for self-protective excuses in the future.
“The results of the inquiry exonerate the hospital care and are critical of Alex’s mother and her network of enablers? Ah, but the hospital staff lied, in retaliation for the hard time we gave them. Also, official cover-up. And incompetent journalists.”
I can’t, however, understand why they’d kill the cat.
It is suggestive of what one might most charitably call “a hypertrophied, self-regarding sense of responsibility”.
@LW – it’s one thing to try to kill one’s self with pills and quite another to make one’s wrist look so ugly after death. The consideration they showed their (potential) undertakers deserves some consideration.
Gad, I’m morbid today…
@Mephistopheles O’Brien: I have doubts whether they ever intended genuine harm to themselves.
I thought your first comment was pretty gross, but your elaboration of your reasoning strikes me, as “the parent of a severely disabled child”, as truly nauseating.
Exactly how tired do I need to get of caring for my daughter before “there’s a case to be made for euthanasia”? Just curious.
I am not trained in psychology but is this — particularly the cat-killing — an example of a syndrome for which there is a specific term?
Family savior, family preserver, something like that? Google is not helping, btw.
These individuals feel so intensely that putting the victims out of their misery (so to speak) is the only way to save them from the external forces that are out to destroy them all.
Maybe I watched too much “Law & Order” when I was younger.
Thank you for this article. Am I the mother of a severely autistic teenager? No, but i will be in a few years. I caught wind of this story a few weeks ago, but ignored it because– well, because it came from AoA. (My FB feed naturally has plenty of other autism moms, and some of them occasionally repost AoA items.) And so it wasn’t until after this tragic murder while we were all commenting back and forth about whether or not we should judge this mother (consensus, “Yes”, thank god) that I read a news link on the story and finally saw that Andrew Wakefield was there advocating “for” the boy. Suddenly I realized why he was suffering from severe GI distress — he had autism and was sitting next to Andrew Wakefield. I have to say that this makes my blood boil. I have no reason to doubt that this child suffered from GI distress, but the only way GI issues relate to the ROOT of his problems is that Wakefield pulled this theory out of his… ___…and used it to convince his mother that the medical establishment was the enemy. This family had options, recommended by real doctors who still have their licenses, and they were “supported” into a corner by the publicity stunts of medical quacks. This man needs to find a career where his ego and bad judgement have lesser consequences. Fashion designer, perhaps.
I posted a more ranty, profanity-laden version of this on my FB page where I know at least 50 parents of children with disabilities and…. crickets. I just needed to post it somewhere I could, possibly, get an Amen.
@Fishstick: You did notice that I said it was not the choice I would have made?
It is possible to see the reasoning behind a decision without agreeing with said decision. As for how tired you need to be, that is entirely up to you. I am not qualified to judge your situation.
Though thank you for reinforcing the judgement of others. I’ll go now.
People like Mike make me think we’re nothing more than talking monkeys.
Our lodger has a cat born with a deformed LF ankle/paw, should it have been throttled at birth?
He’s a big ol’ softy Siamese, very shy until he warms to you. Not a person, neither is our wee pup.
That Mike has more sympathy, compassion and empathy for a thing you own is somewhat unsettling. Euthanasia for anything other than an end of life situation or something like it for pecuniary motives is heartless.
There are lots of other things we could cut our spending on like the Senate or maybe the Feds altogether. As Harper has shown by proroguing Parliament and the country carried on as if nothing had happened, we don’t need them either.
I’d rather my taxes helped people rather than a Roman Catholic education.
Many years ago, our neighbours had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. The youngest of her family, while being aboot 7 years older than me, she was a sweet kid who would come over and ask my Dad out to play before I was born.
Being the youngest, she will likely outlive her family. So when it comes time to prevent her from becoming a drain on society, we’ll call Mike to put her down.
“PETA” springs to mind.
Thanks, Narad. There is mint tea all over my keyboard now.
My first thought on reading this post, is the biomed treatments which it seems likely were utilised given the company they were keeping, may have caused the pain he was in. We may never know but this is, as Orac outlines, a cautionary tale. A terribly tragic one.
The fact that you even sympathize with Alex’s murderers is beyond reprehensible. HE WAS A HUMAN BEING! HE WAS A CHILD! HE WAS MUCH MORE INNOCENT THEN THE CAT BECAUSE THE CAT AT LEAST HAD CLAWS TO DEFEND ITSELF!
Who gives a f*ck about the cat? Sure it’s ridiculous that they killed it, but this isn’t about the cat for Pete’s sake, this is about an innocent, vulnerable child murdered in a very harsh and brutal fashion. Why are you offering sympathy for the murderers and not willing to mourn the loss of human life? We don’t know what Alex may have been able to do. Based on the story from the mother, all she could see was a waste of space and a waste of life. His aggression was his way of communicating to them his pain. They were too narrow minded, too focused on trying to ‘recover the child that autism stole away from them’ to see the precious, loving, compassionate and hopeful child he really was. And we will never know what he could have added to society because they refused to give him that chance.
Another teen similar to Alex, non verbal and severely autistic comes to mind. Her name is Carly Fleischmann. Look her up. This is the difference between a family who accepts their child and loves and encourages their child and a family who gives up on their child and assumes there’s nothing there unless the autism can be erased.
There is no reasoning behind taking the life of your child. Don’t mourn for these monsters, mourn for the little boy that they took from the world without him ever finding his voice to tell people who he was. That is what this is about. The entire world should be heart broken about his loss. The despicable excuses for humans who cared for him did a piss poor job of it if they couldn’t even ‘listen’ to what he was trying to tell them about the ‘treatment’ they were subjecting him to. Don’t make this about the cat, the cat, really doesn’t matter.
Narad, nice mordant chuckle.
That “mother”, that “woman” who killed her son – I have no sympathy for her ever. I do believe that Alex was subjected to terrible biomed “cures”. For LJ Goes and all you meddlers, please be aware that we are going to find evidence of this. Not for a moment do I believe you just happened to find Alex, and give him your “help” which was not help, but an excuse for his mother to kill him. You should be ashamed. And even more ashamed that your FB friends seem more concerned for you than they are for a dead child.
Lara – 161 – Thank YOU
We are all human regardless of our physical, mental or neural make up. We are ALL important, valuable and all deserve the same dignity, humanity and rights because we are human and they are ‘unalienable human rights.’ My heart bleeds for Alex, as well as all the other precious souls that have been stolen from us by their ‘care givers’.
Wow . . . just wow. Some of the comments here are just . . . a bit more aggressive than I ever expected. And a bit disheartening. I’ve been reading here for quite a few years and, honestly, some of the comments here would seem more appropriate . . . elsewhere.
Let me clarify a couple things for those who appear to think I am the .
1: Yes, I was more upset by them killing the cat.
1a: I was not -not- upset by them murdering their own child.
1b: This does not make me evil, inhumane, a PETA fanatic, or any of the other attributes that appear to have been ascribed to me.
2: I do not -endorse- euthanasia. I do, however, believe that there are cases where it is better to end a life than to continue it -simply because it is a life-.
2a: That choice is deeply personal, and I do not pretend to be qualified to make it for “you” if you are in that situation.
3: Being able to understand a person’s stated point of view does not mean I sympathize with it, agree with it, or condone it.
4: There is no point 4.
5: I’ve stated a couple of times that the murder was tragic, ‘wrong’, and unconscionable.
If you really think I’m evil because I stated I was more upset by them killing their cat (who’s only “disability” was being adopted by someone who should never have had a pet, let alone a child) then so be it.
Slippery slope it is, T was correct.
This seems to have been planned. The videos prior, the amount of publicity generated and then the murder all seem to have been carefully crafted to build a case for the killers. I hope the DA goes for and gets murder in the first degree.
Dear Mike, it is possible you need some social skills upgrades.
Let me introduce you to a concept: inappropriate. That means saying or doing something in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or to the wrong people.
If I’m not mistaken, you have been here before. You might know that the regular RI commenters, well-represented here, include for example, a person with formidable physical impairments; a mother whose beloved late child had overwhelming physical and cognitive issues; a number of commenters who are themselves autistic, and other folk I am sure I am overlooking.
To come here and wonder aloud if your stronger reaction to the cat’s death than the murder of the child was inappropriate.
Your reaction is something to discuss with a trusted friend, or in a venue (like a cat-adoption forum) where people are not grieving for the child who was murdered.
T and have to agree: fvck you, fvck the horses you rode in on and fvck your goddess Ayn Rand. Just because something has no economic value, does not mean it doesn’t have a value. By your logic, we shouldn’t have libraries, museums or parks.
Lara: Thank you. Said it better than I could.
Brigit and Jane: go away, you ghouls.
As I said earlier, AOA’s contribution can’t be ignored. They encouraged the mother every step of the way, and more kids might be in danger if Ms. S. gets away with it, which she will.
Mike, there’s a second step for those who have engaged in inappropriate behavior: an apology.
It could go like this:
“My question was heart-felt, but I asked it in the wrong venue. Please forgive all distress I have caused you all.”
Then you stop talking (or writing, in this case).
M o’B – haven’t you seen that picture of you aboard the Glaxxon Deathsphere, the one where your face is surrounded by a heart shape?
I nominated you for ‘Shill of the Xxaa’mn ‘for that rousing rendition of the ‘Getting Away With It’ aria from O’Pharmetta that you performed at the Shills’n’Minions Kz’zargmas Cotillion last year.
I had tears in my eyes, and not just because one of the hatchlings was clamped onto my thigh.
LW , The “If I can’t have the kids then nobody can” is typically a father-thing actually.
Oh FFS that is pathetic, gb2reddit. Speak for yourself, just because you’re drowning in a stinking lake of self pity, that doesn’t mean Alex wouldn’t have envied your life.
Tell me, what was your excuse before the
fictionalevil NHS worker wrote your entire life off? The fact that someone who got through uni, has a job and can access healthcare, is whining about the unfairness of it all when we’re talking about an abused, murdered kid who was unable to advocate for himself, just goes to illustrate perfectly well what happens when the narrative of the broken/damaged/stolen is played so loud that it drowns out everything else.
Why not hook up with Jake Crosby? Sure, your views on biomeddling may clash, but it’s better than becoming a lifetime subscriber to the neckbeard ideology of ‘Forever Alone’ that blames anything and anyone possible, purely because one is unlucky in love.
ASD =/= forever alone
Physical disability =/= forever alone
Mental illness =/= forever alone
Short of being a crazed axe murderer who must kill everyone on sight, these days there’s very littlm preventing like-minded people from meeting, falling in love, or forming amazing friendships,
Using the maiming and killing of a child to complain about your lack of a sex life is a new low for this place. At least Mike and Bir-git are just trolling.
I found the speculation that Alex had been subjected to bleach enemas (MMS treatment) to be a significant possibility, so I went looking. I found some things I found puzzling.
I also found a blog of a woman who is subjecting her son to the bleach treatment. It is horrifying. The mother is seeing “worms” in her child’s stool, which clearly is to me chunks of her child’s intestinal lining.
Don’t follow the link, unless you want to be outraged.
I need to laugh.
Who wants to chip in for afterburners for elburto’s new chair? And something spiffy for the other Mrs. elburto’s use?
@Liz – I do get the sense that Alex’s Mom & Caregiver were doing things to him that exacerbated his behavior….why do you think he was “fearful” of going to the doctor? Perhaps it was a combination of chelation & MMS?
@t. and @Have To Agree:
If we lived in a subsistence-level society where every able-bodied man, woman, and child works from dawn to dusk to produce enough food that not too many starve, where every morsel of food that goes to a disabled person is a morsel that doesn’t go to a child who might grow up able to help the community survive — then yeah, I’d probably agree with you.
But no one who has access to a computer, electricity, the Internet, and leisure to use the same, lives in such a society.
Your concern for waste of taxpayers’ money is laudable, as the amount of waste is unimaginable, but providing a decent, humane, human life for people who can’t care for themselves isn’t a waste; it’s one of the important functions of a modern society. It may be poorly or inefficiently or even cruelly done, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all.
I was not ascribing this trait to you.
This case is horrible beyond words, and certainly smells of MMS or other mistreatment. It may take a while, but this is a murder case and facts that for now are protected by privacy statutes are likely to be revealed in a courtroom over the coming weeks. Until then, I don’t think we can do much but speculate as to what was happening to Alex prior to his murder — we’re only getting half of the story. Once the medical personnel who saw Alex in his last days are brought in to testify I suspect our horror at the evil done will only be magnified.
“My son Alex is just one of millions of children and adults who no longer will be silenced.”
I’m surprised no one mentioned this yet, that in her earlier statement it’s the Big Pharma Vaccine Conspiracy that’s silenced Alex by supposedly making him autistic and nonverbal, when in reality she ended up being the one to take it into her own hands to silence him forever.
OK, I think it’s time to calm down.
@elburto: “LW , The “If I can’t have the kids then nobody can” is typically a father-thing actually.”
Typically, perhaps, but not always. Reading this post is was repeatedly reminded of the myth of Medea and also of a true crime book I read once about a woman who shot her three little children and then — very non-life-threateningly — herself, in a somewhat similar case where she could have simply given up custody of the children but chose to kill them instead (at least one survived though).
@Liz Ditz – I fear you’re wasting your time with that one!
Well all, I’m turning in with my apparently non-existent wife, and ending another
pretty fun and productivewangsty and terrible day, just sobbing into my Crynoceros about how being disabled, mental and non-NT ( take that ableists!) is like… totes the worst thing ever, because I’m just a vegetable pancake or something.
Maybe this is the crazy talking – but I have a roof over my head, someone who loves me, perfectly working thumbs and a smartphone that connects to our (free!!!) whizzy fibre broadband. That makes me better off than several billion people. Money? Nope, we’re struggling at best. A nice house? Haha no, shoddy rental from the Twenties, but at least I know to be happy with what I have, like Miss Nigel and Master Bernard, our comets.
Happy dreams, and hugs to all hurt by the trolls.
Wow, Medea’s going a bit far back mate! I raise you… er, HEROD!
@elburto: the joys of a classical education.
Illinois is summarized here (PDF).
I read at least of the post’s on AoA about Alex written by his mother and found it incredibly confusing. ER is basically drive through medicine, get the patients in and out. If the patient requires additional care, refer to a provider or admit if the patient needs immediate care.
I couldn’t make sense of the story she told. It didn’t mesh with what I knew of conventional medicine and her pleas to call the hospital seemed absurd.
His murder is tragic and horrific. However, I won’t be mouthing the common platitude of “She seemed normal, nice.”. She seemed bizarre and confused.
As for the legal outcome, I like “not guilty by reason of insanity” because sentence is commitment to a mental health facility. (Alas, we just had a local man sentenced for stabbing four people last year. Fortunately, all of his victims recovered.)