It’s five in the morning. I have been sitting in my dark house, drinking coffee, reading about Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year-old boy who was murdered by his own mother on June 11. Alex wasn’t just murdered, he was savagely murdered. First his mother and his godmother/caregiver, Jolanta Agatha Skrodzka, tried to kill Alex by giving him an overdose of sleeping pills. According to the Chicago Tribune, Dorothy Spourdalakis stabbed him four times in the chest with a kitchen knife, including twice in the heart, and then slit his wrist, almost severing his hand. Alex Spourdalakis was severely autistic.
My house is dark and quiet, but soon my kids will be up and my house will be noisy, breakfasts made, animals fed, kids laughing and bickering and asking when it’s time to swim, my oldest son telling me about some new band he likes and my daughter asking me to help her put tiny dolls shoes on some fashion doll and my middle kid kissing me and asking How is your day when my day hasn’t really started yet because that’s what he does. My children aren’t autistic. My children have no emotional or developmental or medical problems. I cannot imagine. Unless we have an autistic child we can’t imagine.
When my kids were younger I would go to the bookstore on Sundays, because even though my kids are *neurotypical they are still kids, and all parents have this, the wanting, the needing the asking the quarreling even the laugher at times can wear on you. I would go to the bookstore and buy magazines or a book, a fancy coffee and just sit for an hour or so, my time. No kids. My husband left alone with them while I had my little break. One day when I was leaving I heard a scream, a horrifying scream, the scream all parents recognize as that of a child. I saw a crowd had gathered in the children’s section around a young boy who was flailing on the ground, crying, his arms and legs lashing out, the bookstore manager raising her voice at at a father. I overheard him from a distance.
My son is autistic. Can you please make these people move away I can calm him, we will leave.
If you don’t control your kids I’m calling the cops. You need to leave.
She stormed away from him, the father going to his child, the crowd dispersing and I confronted her, in the way that someone does when they are upset but they have no idea how upset until they try to articulate it. I think I told her she handled it terribly. I told her the young boy couldn’t help it and she had no right to treat the father and son that way. Then I stormed off to my car and unlocked the door and sat with my head on the steering wheel and cried for about 15 minutes before I finally went home and broke down again in front of my husband. I should have done more, in hindsight I should have went to the father and offered to help or called the corporate office of the bookstore or told that crowd of gawkers to move the hell away but I didn’t. I never went back to that bookstore.