Dorothy Spourdalakis of Illinois was the mother of a 14-year-old boy with severe autism and is now accused of doing the unthinkable. The boy was found stabbed to death, and police say his mother said it was all too much for her and that she and close family friend Jolanta Agatha Skrodzka tried to end the pain for the boy and for themselves.
Apparently after allegedly stabbing the boy, they took a bunch of sleeping pills and prepared to die. But it didn't work that way.
What is perhaps saddest in a story that is just horrifically painful is that Spouradalakis asked for help. She posted YouTube videos on the Autism Media Channel saying he needed a home in the country, space to run around in, and that she needed help. But she never got it. See below:
Her pleas just break my heart. As a mother myself, I can't even begin to fathom what she must have felt, the desperation and fear. She moved from motel to motel trying to take care of him, and from what it sounds like, Alex may have been days away from being taken from his mother and put in an institution.
Authorities found a three-page note that was written by the mother, detailing how difficult life was with her son, but state officials tell a different story. They say they offered help and the family turned it down.
It's obvious, as a parent, to immediately go to the pain this woman was going through and to try to imagine what I might do in her place. It's almost impossible and I am not sure we can judge without walking that path ourselves and knowing what it feels like. On the other hand, if she WAS offered help and she refused it, then what? Was stabbing her son really the only answer? It seems like even in that, there must have been kinder ways of doing it. She has pills, so why not that? Maybe she needed to be sure he was dead before she could leave herself.
The desperation and sadness in this story will continue to haunt my thoughts, but I have to believe there were better options. I have to believe that somehow, somewhere, she could have found the help she so desperately needed.
This story is just sickeningly sad, but it speaks to what parents of children with severe special needs go through every day and the kind of support they really need. To avoid cases like this in the future, we need to take a long, hard look at our society and make sure that every mother feels supported and empowered in making choices for her child.
In a society as wealthy as ours, there is just no excuse for anyone to feel this alone.
Do you think this mother did everything she could?