I’d like to introduce you to Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year-old boy who lives with his mother, Dorothy. Alex is not like most 14-year-old boys. He has severe autism with cognitive impairment, and he is non-verbal. Like many kids with autism, he experiences periodic disruptions to his sleep.
A few months ago, Alex’s sleep disturbances got serious enough for him to be become agitated and aggressive. This coincided with the onset of severe gastrointestinal symptoms, like constipation alternating with diarrhea. In the middle of February, his mother took him to Gottlieb hospital in Illinois, USA. He was in excruciating pain, which manifested as aggression.
For 13 days, Alex was kept in locked restraints, only being released to use the bathroom. Bear in mind that this kid was suffering from constipation, diarrhea and vomiting. He tried to communicate when he was getting sick by screaming, but staff frequently didn’t release him in time and he would have to lie in his own vomit for several minutes at a time. He would be allowed to use the bathroom, and then he would be wiped down and returned to the restraints.
During this time, Alex was given a cocktail of drugs that were not helping, and repeated pleas by his mother for his allergies to be considered fell on deaf ears, even as his skin became raw from allergy-induced dermatitis. He was not formally admitted to the hospital, nor was a proper treatment plan devised for him.
Are you horrified yet? Brace yourself, because the story continues. (more…)