Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Autism Media Channel's WHO KILLED ALEX SPOURDALAKIS? raises some ugly questions

Having now seen a number of documentaries dealing with autism and its discontents, TrustMovies can vouch that the new one titled WHO KILLED ALEX SPOURDALAKIS? is one of the most disturbing of all. A horror story about the kind of medical care dished out by major hospitals and their doctors to patients afflicted with a disease like autism, the movie is less a mystery -- we know from the start who killed the boy in question: his mother (shown below) and his godmother -- than a history, both narrative and visual, of what led up to this murder.

The movie has made that point -- about ignorance and indifference in our medical establishment -- so quietly and effectively that it does not need its ram-the-point-down-our-throats finale. This is unfortunate because the movie will have by that time convinced most of its audience, so going over the top may well undo the good already accomplished. This aside, Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis? is a remarkable document about the lengths a loving mother and godmother will go to save their son (below is the photo of the two at the time of their arrest), and the stupidity of some -- not all -- of the doctors supposedly helping the boy.

Early on, after the onset of autism was diagnosed, Alex's mom placed him on a recommended diet that helped his symptoms enormously. (We've seen this same treatment shown in other documentaries, as well.) Why Alex was ever taken off that diet is not explained to a good enough degree, but once the symptoms began again, there would seem to be no excuse for not putting the boy back on the healthier regimen.

Alex's allergic reactions and inability to handle many of the drugs given him would underscore once again our over-reliance on drug use. In Alex's case, the film soon becomes the anti-prescription-drug movie of all time. Much of the science shown us here is fascinating, as is the degree of connection between autisim and intestinal damage.

The movie points a justified finger in the director of a certain Dr. Berman, chief of Loyola Hospital's pediatric gastroenterology -- who stupidly and heartlessly put psychiatry above the management of Alex's physical pain. When at last, we see a doctor who does the right thing -- and view the results of this -- it's a wonderful respite from the continuing hell-on-earth that Alex and his two moms have suffered.

Other than Alex's mom and godmother, there are other heroes in the movie, too: an autism advocate (above) who come to the defense of the threesome, and doctors (below) who actually know what they are doing and care enough to consequently do the right thing for the boy.

Unfortunately, by the time we reach the end of the story, Alex's mom has grown so weakened in mind and spirit that she appears to be unable to any longer make intelligent decisions. (The doctor she agrees to go with toward the end is clearly the wrong one.) But after seeing what the woman and her son have been through, I doubt you will believe that you could have done much better by the boy.

Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis? -- from disinformation, running only a bit over one hour, and packed with anger-making information and history -- is now available on DVD and VOD. Click here to learn how you can obtain the DVD. For VOD, consult your local cable provider.

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