Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where Is the Love? The Case of Alex Spourdalakis

On Friday, June 7th, 2013, 14 year old Alex Spourdalakis was brutally murdered by his mother and godmother.

He was stabbed, twice in the chest, and two slits to the wrists.

Let that sink in for a minute.  How many of you, without any context whatsoever, just those two sentences, think this is a horrible event and those responsible should be punished to the fullest extent of the law?

Yeah.  Me too.

But throw the fact that he was autistic into it and suddenly the view changes.

Not for me.  But for a lot of others, this tips the scales.

Because of course it was so haaaaaaaaaaard for the MOTHER, don't you know?

The mother and godmother, who unsuccessfully attempted suicide, left a suicide note detailing how difficult it was caring for him.  And maybe it was.  We don't know the ins and outs of the situation.  But parenting, in itself, is hard.  It's always going to be hard.  You can't kill your kid because the game's too hard for you.  You don't have a choice in what kid you get.  You can't request an easier kid.  You get what you get - and you don't get upset.

A comment on one of the articles I saw said simply "she killed him out of love".  I'm sure Dorothy Spourdalakis loved her son very much and didn't want to see him in pain (Apparently Alex had gastrointestinal issues that he was hospitalized for repeatedly).  But ending another's life is not a choice to make lightly, and unless that person has specifically asked you to make those sorts of decisions, it's not your decision to make.

What if it was a nondisabled child?  A child who could have said "NO" when you were trying to kill him?  Does it make it any better that he couldn't form that word?  Because I bet if you couldn't speak, you'd still be screaming in your head, screaming for your own mother not to kill you.  Screaming for anyone not to kill you, actually, because that pesky survival instinct is pretty damn strong.

Alex had feelings, too.  I wonder what he felt as he was being murdered.  Hurt, maybe?  Betrayed?  Confused?  He was a human being too, with his own desires and feelings and ideas.  No matter how impaired someone is, it does not negate their humanity.

I don't care if you feel hopeless, helpless, what have you.  Murder is not an option.  Because you're taking someone's autonomy, choices, life away from them.  And disabled or not, that is not acceptable.

Alex had feelings, too.  I wonder what he felt as he was being murdered.  Hurt, maybe?  Betrayed?  Confused?  He was a human being too, with his own desires and feelings and ideas.  No matter how impaired someone is, it does not negate their humanity.

Alex Spourdalakis was a human being, flesh and blood, just as real as you or I.  I mourn for him, and for a life that shouldn't have ended.  I demand justice for him and all the other disabled victims who are killed by parents or caregivers in the name of mercy.  And I.  Will.  Not.  Give.  Up.

There will be a virtual vigil for Alex Sunday night into Monday.  Please join if you can.  https://www.facebook.com/events/387982241320567/387993201319471/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

8 comments :

Tarah Schaeffer said...

To think what that kid must have felt as they were doing all that to him. I am sure on some level he knew he was being killed by due to his disability couldn't vocalize it. How helpless and scared he must have felt. To have the person he looked to and loved the most in the world kill him cause he was "hard to care for". If you can't handle him give him up to an agency that can. It makes me so glad once again that I had the parent's I did that looked to me not as a "problem to get through" but a blessing from god.

Tarah Schaeffer said...

To think what that kid must have felt as they were doing all that to him. I am sure on some level he knew he was being killed by due to his disability couldn't vocalize it. How helpless and scared he must have felt. To have the person he looked to and loved the most in the world kill him cause he was "hard to care for". If you can't handle him give him up to an agency that can. It makes me so glad once again that I had the parent's I did that looked to me not as a "problem to get through" but a blessing from god.

Ib Grace said...

Thank you! also for those members of ASAN Chicago and friends and allies please consider supporting Alex's memory at his wake where he lived:

Wake for Alex Spourdalakis

Rago Brother Funeral Home
7751 W. Irving Park Road
Chicago, Illinois 60634
773-276-7800

Saturday, June 15th, 2013
2:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Kevin Angelini said...

You don't get a warranty when it comes to your children. There are no returns, there are no refunds. A child is a human being, not a machine part that can be replaced.

Anonymous said...

As the mother of a very severely autistic son, the same age as Alex, I can relate in so very many ways to the horror of this situation. I followed the story of Alex from the time his issues were made public in March of this year. I was, at that time, in the process of placing my own son in residential group home placement due to his size, aggression, and destructive nature. Behaviors that even after 2 years of intense training, for him and my husband and I, couldn't be overcome. Just the behaviors were enough to drive me almost to the brink of insanity, and I had a present husband and family support. My son was miserable and overstimulated all the time... our home wasn't conducive to his success.
The help and the placement that we found was VERY difficult to obtain - Some said it was miraculous
I believe it was my education, tenacity, and support network, along with my faith, that led us to a solution that saved our family.
Alex's situation was very different. His mother advocated for him relentlessly on her own for quite some time. But, because of his medical issues, their situation was more complicated. Hospitals DO REFUSE APPROPRIATE CARE FOR AUTISTIC PATIENTS. I have experienced this for myself. I can only imagind the hopelessness of a mom whose child has a truly debilitating medical issue.
I do NOT condone what Dorthy Spourdalakis did. I am so saddened and disgusted by the method that was resorted to. But, Alex was unconscious when the stabbing occurred. Heavily drugged. Dorothy did premeditate a death by overdose, and I believe, she was despondent and breaking apart already when she realized he wasn't dying. And, in her desperation to release him, she truly broke and became a monster. I cannot condone that BECAUSE I am a mother just like her who DID find help and hope and a place for my son - so I know that there was a chance for Alex.
BUT... I also cannot condemn her either, because I know how unfathomably hard it is to raise a child like ours WITH help... doing it alone and without supports is just unimaginable.
If you have never worked with a severely autistic aggressive child - you have no idea what hard parenting is. Caregivers that came in to work with my son could not comprehend how we were surviving. No joke. To me, it was just life. To the "normal" population it was pure insanity.
Dorthy will face a jury and will pay for her choice. I am supportive of that. But, I also believe that she will serve whatever sentence she's given believing she saved her son from a worse fate. Its all so very very sad and wrong.
I had to write this out, so your readers could have a view from the other side of the tracks so to speak..... RIP Alex... You will NOT be forgotten.

Brenda Rothman (Mama Be Good) said...

Parents of children with autism need more supports for their children and their family. They need better health care, education options, services, and more understanding from society.

A fourteen-year-old boy named Alex Spourdalakis has died, his mother charged with his murder.

These two facts are not connected.

Murder that uses autism as an excuse is murder. No excuses. No reasons. It is unethical, immoral, and unacceptable.

All those other issues - expectations, parenting, supports, services, social pressure, intense living - those are separate issues. They do not cause people to murder.

Margot said...

This story makes me sick. This poor innocent teenager died simply because he is disabled and that is totally unfair. Like I told someone else recently, just because life is a challenge doesn't mean your better off dead. His mother didn't have the right to take away his life. I hate that she thinks she did this out of "mercy".

Jo Kelly said...

If the right to end of life choice people have their way - we are heading in exactly this direction. People with disabilities will not have much hope; most especially those who are non-verbal. A man killed his daughter years ago in Canada - got 10 years for it but he had unwavering public support - it was sickening. Every comment I read that said "Oh poor you" made me feel betrayed by our society. Sadly, people who become disabled often take that route themselves because our society truly does not value those with disabilities.