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Dachel Media Update: ABC 7: Alex Spourdalakis' Story

Online newsBy Anne Dachel OurKids ad 2013

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.

Comment:

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


Lee Silsby logo 09 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 Book CoverAnne 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.

Comments

Linda1

Sharyl Attkisson explains how hard it is to report anything about any big corporation. This is her description of what happened when she reported on the harmful side effects of childhood vaccines during the Bush Administration. Minutes before she was to go on the air, the station got a call from "Every Child By Two" who she later found was funded by Wyeth. Despite the call, her producer (Murphy) allowed her to go ahead with the report. Then, from page 69:

"Resisting the pushback, we air the story as planned and Murphy asks for more. We continue digging into FDA-approved prescription drugs that are allegedly proving problematic from a safety standpoint.
When we do, hired guns for pharmaceutical interests flood me and CBS News with emails, phone calls and requests for meetings. They write letters to CBS attorneys. The spokesman for Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson calls the CBS News Washington bureau chief to exert pressure to discredit our stories. Pharmaceutical company lawyers set up secretive meetings with CBS officials in New York. Pharmaceutical interests contact CBS executives to complain...

My producer and I are also receiving direct pressure from news executives in New York who begin unnaturally inserting themselves into the newsgathering and approval process for the pharmaceutical related stories as they had never done with me before. Even after our scripts go through the normal editorial process and receive approval from the legal department, the executives enter to dissect and question each fact and sentence."

The above description is from a time when it wasn't as bad as it is now. So, the fact that ABC aired a report about Alex Spourdalakis and the documentary that clearly states that his problems started after his vaccines, is good.

cia parker

And I think the reporters, if they were really cowed into playing the game, might report it in a way that might get through. How about: "His caregivers report that Alex developed normally until he got the MMR, and then, within (whatever) he lost his speech and started (whatever). His doctors did not agree that this was the cause of his autism, but it is what his parents believe was responsible for his losing his personality and his learned skills. The Star always agrees with medical professionals on every issue, especially on the vaccine question, but in the interest of fairness, we are reporting on the beliefs of his parents, shared by so many thousands now. "

cia parker

Barry, I agree with you. I think if every last reporter started slipping the truth into their stories about vaccines doing the damage, we'd start to see some progress. I'll bet there are a lot of editors who would let the facts in if it were evident that the tide had turned, especially these days when everyone knows children damaged by vaccines. I always tell everyone about both my daughter's vaccine encephalitis AND her autism. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

cia parker

I thought I had read two years ago that Alex's autism was triggered by his getting the MMR, but I googled it last night, and couldn't find where it said that anywhere. Is that confirmed? Why did he not get it until close to two years old?

Linda1

Barry,
Please read Sharyl Atkisson's book. The reports are being stopped by the reporter's bosses who are being pressured by their sponsors and by the government. It's not the reporters. I'd bet that this reporter had to tread lightly in order to get this report through the censors.

Barry

I have no desire to protect some reporter, who intentionally avoided reporting on what his own story should have been all about.

Reporting partial truths is dishonest, and it doesn't help anyone. Vaccine injury is a travesty, that needs to be stopped now. And that can only be done with courage, not cowardice.

just another autism mom

Jersey Guy - I agree with you. Sometimes I tell my son's story of a vaccine reaction and encephalopathy without highlighting the autism. Parents and children with autism been vilified in the media.

JerseyGuy

Barry: What kind of reporter would avoid asking questions about the cause of Alex's autism? Maybe a reporter who sincerely wants to report the whole truth about autism but also wants to keep his job, a reporter who answers to an editor who worries that all those pharma commercials may be pulled. For all we know, it may be that this reporter did ask the $64,000 question, but the answer ended up on the cutting room floor. As Sharyl Attkisson painfully learned, editors can spike any story they like. So far from blaming this reporter, I'd applaud him for pushing the envelope as far as he did.

just another autism mom

So heartbreaking on so many levels. I read the comments on ABC7 and beyond the typical paid-PHARMA remarks, I think Alex's death is such an alarm for our autism community because we parents who have struggled with 24/7 health issues, know the feeling of being exhausted, being defeated, being shunned and maligned by the traditional system. We know the dark places our minds can go when we are feeling broken, without hope. I pray that Alex’s mom and godmother are the last caregivers to let go of all faith and turn their dark thoughts into reality. The kindness and care provided to Alex and his caregivers couldn’t combat the physical and mental damage inflicted by the mainstream medical system.

Laura Hayes

To Rae,

If you mean the news story (vs. the movie), click on the hyperlink at the beginning of the 2nd paragraph..."In an Eye Witness News exclusive report,...." Hope that works for you :)

Dan Burns

Watch the news report -- actually clips from AMC's "Who Killed Alex" -- at http://abc7chicago.com/news/abc7-exclusive-alexs-story/439605/

Barry

"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.

************

When it comes to autism, it's hard to say who has more blood on their hands…. the medical system, or the media.

And anyone who can't see that, should seriously ask themselves:

What kind of a reporter would write something like this, and intentionally avoid reporting on what triggered the "episode" ?



Rae

So how do we get to see this? Is it archived anywhere?

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