THE BLOG
06/13/2013 10:50 am ET | Updated Aug 13, 2013

But What About Alex?

Another autistic child has died... stabbed... multiple times in the chest. His mother has been charged with murder. Alex Spourdalakis was 14 years old.

The mother of a 14-year-old with severe autism who was found stabbed to death..." -- Daily Herald.com

But what about Alex?

The mother of a 14-year-old with severe autism..." -- Pantagraph.com

But what about Alex?

First degree murder charges have been filed against Dorothy Spourdalakis, the mother of a teen with severe autism..." -- abclocal.go.com

But what about Alex?

A young man. Stabbed. Not once. Multiple times.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness." The United States Declaration of Independence - 1776

But what about Alex?

In the 237 years since those words were first written we have failed miserably at putting this idea into practice. All human life is not treated as equal -- apparently it is not "self-evident." We continue to live in a world where equality is still desperately sought by a great many.

For those who are born unable to speak and autistic, those among us who are given the label "severe," their lives matter even less. We not only think of ourselves (those of us who are able to speak and whose neurology is not autistic) as superior, our lives deemed more worthwhile, but we are reminded of our superiority every single day of our existence, just as those who are born unlike us are told in myriad ways how they are not.

Autistic people, particularly those with multiple physical challenges, are spoken of as "burdens" to society, they are talked about as though they are incapable of understanding the words being used to describe them. They are not consulted. They are not listened to. For the most part they are being ignored. And those who are raising their voices in protest, who dare to speak out against the crimes committed against them, they are met with resistance, anger, indignation. They are often ridiculed, dismissed, silenced or simply ignored.

When a parent murders their child, we cringe in horror. When that child is disabled, we sympathize. Psychologists are interviewed to help us understand. We dissect the child's history. We look for clues. What could have provoked a parent to do such a thing? Sometimes we conclude the parent was crazy and unfit, but not before we make sure there was nothing unusual about the child. As we rally around, trying to distance or identify with the parent, Alex and those like him are all but forgotten. His life is seen as an example of what some must endure. His life becomes an illustration of that burden on society that everyone wishes would just go away.

But what about Alex?

What about what Alex had to endure? What about what it must have been like to live his life for those 14 years? Where are the news articles discussing who this young man was? What did he love? What were his passions? What made him happy? What must it be like to not be able to speak? Did he communicate through typing? Did he read and write and if so what did he like to read? What was his favorite subject? Did he love music? Did he like animals? Was there something special he enjoyed doing?

What about Alex?

Ariane Zurcher can be found on her blogs: Emma's Hope Book and Where Art & Life Meet

For Emma's Hope Book Facebook page click here.

For Ariane Zurcher Designs Facebook page click here.

For more by Ariane Zurcher, click here.

For more on autism, click here.

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