By Anne Dachel
Read Anne's commentary and view the links after the jump. The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and OurKidsASD, an online supplement retailer for patients with special needs.
ABC7 Chicago, IL
Incredible coverage. It should outrage everyone. Lots of people, so far not implicated, should be made to answer for what happened to this teen.
In an Eyewitness News exclusive report, newly-obtained interviews reveal the pain, frustration and fear facing a family as they cared for a suburban boy with a severe form of autism. The videos capture the final months of the child's life before his mother and godmother are accused of murdering him more than a year ago.
These interviews are not offered-up as an excuse for the alleged murder, but as a way to provide context and insight into one family's desperate situation.
Alex Spourdalakis was a typical toddler, adventurous and mischievous. Everything was fine until a few months shy of Alex's 2nd birthday.
"He had this episode with the fever and the screaming at night and that was like a turning point," said Agatha Skrodzka, Alex's godmother.
"He lost his speech, strange behaviors, skin rashes," said Dorothy Spourdalakis, Alex's mother.
Dorothy and Agatha are the two women who - just a few months after this interview was recorded - would be charged with murdering Alex. They've each entered not guilty pleas.
By age 3, Alex was diagnosed with a severe form of autism. The next decade would feature setback after setback, hospitalizations, medications and meltdowns. As Alex grew, so did his strength and his needs. . . .
Alex's final weeks were captured on camera by an autism advocacy group, and turned into a film titled: "Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis?"
"We clearly didn't anticipate the end of this. This was part of a reality show in which we were trying to show how these children could be made better; but what we captured was in fact a prelude to an alleged murder," said Andy Wakefield, Autism Media Channel.
"She just, she just couldn't take seeing her son in pain anymore and seeing no future for him, and there was no help for him," said Polly Tommey, Autism Media Channel.
Thank you, Ben Bradley and ABC 7 for covering this critical issue.
There are unanswered questions that viewers are left with after watching this report: What happened to Alex just before he turned two? Why did a healthy, normally developing toddler suddenly lose learned skills (including speech), develop such severe bowel disease and end up diagnosed with autism? Why are doctors so helpless to prevent this from happening and so mystified on how to treat it when it does? Two decades of soaring autism rates have gone almost unnoticed by the medical community. An autism rate of one in every 68 children still isn't a crisis to doctors or health officials.
Who really killed Alex Spourdalakis?
Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism
The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and OurKidsASD. Lee Silsby is one of the most respected compounding pharmacies in the country and is committed to serving the needs of the Autism community. OurkidsASD is an online retailer for nutritional supplements for patients with special needs. OurkidsASD carries thousands of products from more than 60 brands and offers free ground shipping on all orders.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which is on sale this Fall from Skyhorse Publishing.