Autism is Not an Excuse for Murder: A Mother Selfishly Takes Her Son’s Life

by Jo on June 12, 2013

Another child with autism has died, and this time, the victim was murdered by his mom.

You will hear many things as this story unfolds.

You will hear that raising a child with autism is hard.

You will hear that many are hopeless and helpless and left to fend for themselves as they navigate an often difficult and isolating diagnosis.

You will hear that this boy’s mother requested help over and over again, appearing in the news as she begged for assistance from anyone that would hear her pleas.

You will hear that she had finally snapped, reached her breaking point.

You will probably even hear that this wasn’t really her fault; that the autism drove her to it.

But you won’t be hearing that from me.

I do not disagree that raising a special needs child – especially one that has a tendency to be violent – can be challenging in ways that most people can not and will not ever comprehend.

I do not disagree that there are days when many of us whose children are on the spectrum feel scared, alone, tired, powerless, and physically and emotionally wrecked.

I do not disagree that the system is nearly impossible to navigate for many; it takes a great deal of time and patience and resources to be able to secure the appropriate supports for our kids and adult children. The system is counting on us to stay uneducated and ignorant of our rights but we forge ahead, despite the numerous dead ends, because we have no other choice. Our children are counting on us.

I do not disagree that there is heartache and frustration, fear and isolation.

But you will not hear me make excuses for a woman who took the life of her child.

There is no diagnosis on the face of this great earth that will ever make that okay.

Autism is not an excuse to kill your kids.

EVER.

This woman is not a martyr; she is a murderer.

A fourteen year old innocent child has lost his life at the hands of the one person who was supposed to never give up on him.

The person we must mourn is Alex Spourdalakis; his mother Dorothy, no matter how hard she may have had it, will not be getting any pity from me.

As parents, we never truly know what’s around the corner. A healthy child may become gravely ill; a bad situation may quickly take a turn for the worse; a sliver of hope may quickly turn to despair; the odds, ever slightly in our favor one day, may plummet out of reach the next.

Yes. Parenting is hard sometimes.

Yes. Parenting a child with autism is even harder.

But you ask almost any mom out there the lengths she would go to in order to protect her child, and without so much as skipping a beat or flinching a muscle, she will look you straight in the eyes and tell you she would DIE for him.

And that’s the way it should be.

Not the other way around.

It no longer matters how hard Dorothy may have fought for her son over the past 14 years. It no longer matters that she was once willing to do anything it took to get Alex the help he so clearly needed.

She caved to an unnatural urge and took the coward’s way out and I have no sympathy, no tolerance for that.

Alex did not get a say; he was not given a choice.

 

Rest in peace sweet Alex Spourdalakis.

This was not your fault.

This was not your autism’s fault.

 

This was the ultimate act of betrayal by a woman who didn’t deserve you in the first place.

 

*For the record, murdering children and adult children with autism is NOT THE NORM among our community. The majority of moms and dads raising kids on the spectrum – severely autistic or not – are left speechless and heartbroken when we hear tragic news such as this. We may not agree on everything (or much of anything, depending on the day of the week) but it’s safe to say that we can all agree no matter how dire the circumstances may be, killing a child is without a doubt the most disgusting and vile act possible, and has no place in our community, or any other. I say this because much like the small percentage of asshats who will attempt to defend this woman’s reprehensible actions, there too will be another group of asshats attempting to generalize all parents of autism into a bunch of heartless and selfish killers who can’t wait to get rid of their autistic kids. Please. See it for the bullshit that it is and know that we treasure our children for the gifts they are.

 

P.S. – Restraining a child to a hospital bed for a month is NOT HELPING HIM. This is not SUPPORT. It’s nothing short of ABUSE. Who in their right mind would think this was okay? Did you watch the video? Do you see Alex moaning and trying to communicate? What are we doing to these kids? Who thinks this is okay? She “tenderly washed his feet?” What about the straps he was forced into? Did she tenderly tighten those as well?

This poor child never stood a chance.

Yeah. I’m mad.

Mad as hell.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Yes June 12, 2013 at 5:41 am

Thank you. 100% agreed.
Alex was murdered. Plain and simple.

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Amen June 12, 2013 at 11:58 am

Exactly. Too many in this community are saying “don’t judge, you don’t walk in her shoes”.
Give me a break. For one, I do walk in very similar shoes. And no matter what it’s not an excuse to kill your kid. She had options. SHE DID HAVE HELP. LOTS OF HELP.
No pity for this woman.

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Disgustipated June 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Thank you so much for writing exactly what I have been feeling since I read the tragic, awful news. I agree 110%. Brutally murdering your child….stabbing him repeatedly in the chest…is never an option. This was no mercy killing…it was cold blooded, premeditated murder.

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Jennifer June 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Speechless and heartbroken is right.

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Veronica June 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Thank you for this. The media article made me absolutely sick to my stomach…

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Tricia June 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I had not heard about this. I cannot believe a mother could do this especially stabbing him! I have 2 sons with autism who can both be violent and I can tell you that “solution” has never ever crossed my mind. May he rest in peace now.

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Mother of an Autistic Boy June 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm

My son has autism, and I am outraged that this mother was so selfish as to take her son’s life just because she left like there was nothing left to do. I have NEVER once thought about KILLING my child, and I dare anyone to be abusive towards my child, too!! I have fought for him since day one and continue to fight for my child until I leave this earth and NOTHING he does or says will EVER make me feel otherwise!! Yes, autistic children are a challenge, but come on!! Murdering your child IS NOT AN OPTION!! This is such a sad and tragic story. I pray that she does not get away with this and that Justice is served for this young man!!!!!!!!!!!

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Lisa June 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Well done. I couldn’t agree more!

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Christina Dutting June 12, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Thank you so much! I am sick to death of seeing people defend this so called mother. I cannot comprehend all the people in the autism community defending her. I myself have a severely autistic child who is 10 yrs old and I would NEVER harm her in any way. I have followed Alex’s story from the beginning and have questioned the mothers motives from the get go! I couldn’t believe she allowed him to be restrained! Calling the police to restrain him to get him to doctors appointments?! No wonder he fought! He was terrified!

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Annie June 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Didn’t she try to commit suicide but it didn’t work? Would have been for the best.

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Cynthia Reece June 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm

James 4:11-12

11-Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12-There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

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Jo June 12, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Cynthia – while I appreciate your taking the time to comment, I respectfully disagree.
If you’ve never been the victim of a crime and needed to count on our judicial system, then I can understand the flippant attitude about not “judging” our neighbors and relying on God to do it for us. According to this bible verse, we should do away with our courts, juries, judges, police, etc. and let the Lord himself come down and deal with the rampant crime. Crime such as the murder of an innocent child.

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Krystal June 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I wanted to wait and see until all the information came out and hope I was wrong when I first heard about the story. I hate to judge without knowing what is going on but after today, after reading everything I have heard after trying to find something else – I can’t. I cannot understand this. I just cannot take the image of this poor child being hurt so severely that the last image in his life was of his mother taking his life. It is selfish. There is always help – whether you chose to accept it is not the fault of your child. Nobody has the right to end the life of another. Nobody, I don’t care who you are. The statement “I brought you into this world, I can take you out” just does not work with me. Poor Alex.

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Www.autismandlove.com June 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm

There was a woman recently (in Britain) that went on national telly to argue the fact that if her autistic son was a dog she would have had the choice to put him down. She stood by that statement. It was all about how terrible her life was, how she had been dumped with this burden and she made these comments behind the guise of “no ones helping me” Amongst a sea of people standing up for her I argued that how can anyone say they wanted to “put their son down”….sadly now it’s happened….

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lexi sweatpants June 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I’m mad, too. I’m mad that a parent murdering their child is EVER softened in thought, act or sentencing by the child’s diagnosis. Murder is murder.

And to murder one of the most vulnerable among us? Those women have a special place in hell. I get that autism is hard. I get that parenting a child with a disability is hard. I have two. I get that sometimes these kids can be violent in an effort to communicate, to self regulate or whatever. But to MURDER them? There are other options. There are SO MANY other options.

I’m so mad.

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Ariane Zurcher June 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm

So glad to see this Jo.

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Belinda Hercule June 12, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I remember when my sons Dr told me he could institutionalize my son for me. Seems like one of his other patients ended up divorced and had no life so she sent her son away. I told him if he ever said that again he would never see me or my son again. I struggled for years ended up divorced and broke but I never ONCE thought to kill or give up my son. This woman was weak and I will pray for that poor young mans soul.

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Patty June 17, 2013 at 2:06 am

Amen, Jo. Amen.

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Deb K August 12, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Wow !!!! Really cant understand ?? I have cant believe his woman! Should have given him up what the hell is wrong? My Autistic daughter is abusive to me at times .I kiss and hug her all the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Amy L. August 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I, myself have autism, and even at my roughest moments, my mother always loved me. While she was pregnant, she even loved me then! They told her that she could have a child with Down’s Syndrome, and to have an amniocentesis, and she refused them, saying even if I had TWO HEADS, she still wanted me!
During part of my life, teachers abused me. I was already sort of mean and rebellious, and this made it worse! But not even ONCE did the thought of killing me ever cross her mind!!

OMG!! When I saw this on the news, the first thing they could come up with in response was a CDC statistic on the incidence of autism, followed up with negative talk about how “terrible” autism is, and her sob story?!?
She IS a murderer!!!!!

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Sorry No Name Today December 4, 2013 at 1:46 am

As an autistic adult (at least that’s what they tell me!), I’d be the “Alex” in this case. And I’m not sure what to think about it. But a lot of parents have weighed in on the issue, and I thought you might like to hear how it looks from the point of view of an Alex.

Bear with me, I’ll try to keep this at least somewhat concise.

I’m on the elderly side of middle age, so when I was a kid the autism diagnosis was only given if a kid was entirely non-verbal and dissociated. That wasn’t me, I’m verbal as hell, but my poor mom knew that something about me was seriously off and dragged me from one specialist to the next, trying to get some help. Needless to say, she got none. And I got none either, because there was none to be had. Nobody’s fault; that’s just the way it was.

(BTW, Temple Grandin is about my age, maybe a few years older, but as I understand it, her family was quite wealthy and well-connected, and mine, although comfortable enough, wasn’t. She deserves hella credit, but at the same time it must be said that that does change things.)

Like a lot of verbal autistics, I’m pretty intelligent – my god, I needed SOMEthing! – so by the time I was six, I was smart enough to know that I needed to be really, seriously worried about my ability to survive independently in the adult world once I reached maturity. By the time I was eight, I had the terrifying suspicion that I wouldn’t be able to do it, in spite of trying harder than I care to describe to learn and grow normally. By ten, I was bleakly certain that I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I spent many, many sleepless nights as a kid and a teenager agonizing over this problem, unable to solve it.

And that is exactly what happened. I’ve held jobs and finished college and tried many workarounds, but I’m pretty much a family burden, just as I feared I’d be. It’s my worst nightmare, and it happened.

And I am here to tell you that there aren’t many things worse than having to feel crushing guilt about the mere fact that you happen to be alive.

So the question is: would I and my family be better off if my parents had pulled an Alex, back in the early sixties when nobody would have known or cared? I do love many things about being alive, but I never for one second forget that every luxurious sunlit, high-tech, first-world moment is all silver-platter charity, and that I haven’t earned any of it. So should I have it? Well, you know, maybe I shouldn’t. Mark Twain said that even in heaven, you earn first and enjoy second. (It’s in “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.” Read it, it’s great. You can find it online. You’ll love it, I promise.)

Maybe Alex and I don’t exactly deserve to be put to death, as such, because it’s not like we’ve deliberately committed any crime. But from my autistic little point of view, that’s not really the question. The question is: do we deserve to live at the expense of another life?

I’m lucky because my family is well off enough to handle the burden of me without seriously impacting their own lives. We’re not extravagant, but we live pretty nice first-world lives without too much trouble. Nobody’s got a summer house or a Learjet, but we’re all eating and sheltered and getting medical care when we need it and reasonably debt-free, and that’s pretty damned great in these times. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case for Alex and his mom. For him to live, she would essentially have had to die.

I am not a parent – no way am I passing this on – but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking that my family would have been much better off without me to bother about. And feeling really, really terrible about it. I have even considered taking action along those lines, but they have headed me off by forbidding me even to think about it (they’re smart too – I never mentioned it, because I didn’t want to be stopped, but they knew what I was thinking!). Which I appreciate, but then they don’t actually have to die to keep me alive. Alex’s mom would have.

As an Alex, I’m not prepared to say that my life is worth somebody else’s. Of course, I’m also not prepared to say that it’s okay to tie your kid down and stab him in the chest until he dies in agony, watching you as you murder him, but I will tell you that feeling guilty about the fact that you’re alive can make a lot of awful stuff look pretty good by comparison. I have often thought of the wonderful life my folks could have had without me, all terribly witty and avant-garde and Fellini-esque. But they don’t have it, because they have me.

Having said all that, Alex didn’t get a vote, and his death was horrific. (Just FYI, Dorothy, mercy killings are properly done with a needle or pills, soft music, and lots of vodka, not straps and a knife.) There was vengeance and malice here. But I remember being fourteen, and *knowing.* And I can see myself saying, “Okay, go ahead.”

Just a viewpoint from out of the deeps.

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Nancy January 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Thank you for bravely making your viewpoint known. It pains me to know that you feel this way, but I don’t want to invalidate the way you feel. I hope that as a society we can find a way so people with autism don’t have to feel this way.

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Mofo March 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

I love how so many of you are judging this parents actions when we murder 50+ million babies through legalised abortion all of which we turn a blind eye too. Do you know we have murdered an estimated 1.5 BILLION babies in the last 50 years through abortion programs? 1.5 BILLION!! think about that number for a while, let that sink in.

What this parent has done is most certainly wrong but seriously folks, we have much bigger problems. And what are we doing about it? Nothing….

http://www.prolifeinfo.ie/abortion-facts/issues/the-numbers/

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Mother April 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

First, get your facts straight: this nation has not aborted 50 million babies PER YEAR since Roe v Wade, it’s been about 50 million abortions TOTAL since Roe. That number is sufficiently horrifying without being misrepresented.

Secondly, the destruction of 50 million babies does not render other murders insignificant. It’s all part of the same culture of death, where we’ve forgotten that we are all made in God’s image, and we are all valuable because He values us all.

Lastly, this story is horrifying and tragic. Where once people were routinely institutionalized for life if they were disabled, today we think no child should be institutionalized (at least, not permanently), no matter how much a threat they pose to themselves and others. Clearly, the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. A more tolerant viewpoint of institutionalization, one that recognizes each situation on a case-by-case basis, may have improved the quality of Alex’s life, and prevented his mother’s sense of desperate hopelessness.

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