Posted by: debstake | November 20, 2008

Terri Schiavo and Autism What is The Connection?


fighting-for-dear-life-book-cover1On October 24th my husband and I went to the “Always Question Authority” conference in Lewisburg Pa. The conference was sponsored by Kathleen Dunkleburger on behalf of her son Bret and others with autism. Their website can be found HERE. The presenters were fantastic but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is the presentation given by David Gibbs.

Mr. Gibbs was the attorney that represented the parents of Terri Schiavo (Robert and Mary Schindler). The presentation he gave was 2 hours in length and covered some very basic but VERY disturbing facts that the majority of this country were ignorant of. An example of this fact is while I have been reading this book at work between my transporting of truck drivers between their terminals and the hotel, the topic of the book has come up. These drivers were under the assumption that Teri was in a coma when she was murdered (yeah I said murdered, more on this later). Others thought what most of us did; that she was in a persistent vegetative state (also known in the medical community as PVS). Neither of these assumptions are correct. All though Terri was brain damaged from her “mysterious” collapse, she was still cognitively aware (much like most of our children with autism are) of the goings on around here. She receptively understood (again much like our children) , what was said to her. One of her big issues (AGAIN like our children with autism) was expressive language. Are we beginning to see the connection between what happened to Terri and what COULD (if people’s attitudes about the sanctity of life continues along the path that Florida has chosen) happen to our children?

Terri also had motor disabilities and could not feed herself. She required a feeding tube for nourishment and hydration. She was NOT on any form of life support when she was dehydrated and starved to death. Do you understand what I am saying here? She was in essence a disabled person in her ability to move and feed herself. NOTHING more would classify this woman as disabled.

I won’t go into great detail about the book, as one has to actually read the book in order to understand the legal maneuvering of both sides of the Terri Schiavo case. If you are interested there is on You Tube, broken into four segments; a DVD presentation of 30 minutes duration that highlights the points of the case. You can go HERE for those clips. However there is a passage that I think is very relevant to our situation as parents of children with autism. The passage reads as follows:

“After hearing me speak, however, the McCurdys began to wonder whether they were now living in an America that might someday decide to take Clinton away from them and deny them the privilege of caring for him. They were worried that a judge, a social worker, a doctor, or an insurance provider somewhere might decide that Clinton didn’t have a quality of life worth the time and resources to maintain. That’s a legitimate concern.

Not to be an alarmist, but America is already turning down the road where human life is disposable. It happened openly for the first time in March of 2005, when Terri died horrifically before the eyes of all the world, but it is estimated that several thousand Floridians died secretly in the same manner before Terri’s public court-ordered death.

This is a roadway that has been traveled before.

Remember what happened under the Third Reich?”

Being married to a World War Two historian is paying off here. When Hitler first came up with the idea of exterminating six million Jews, he had to make sure his method to do so was effective both in terms of completion and cost. In the early days of the death camps he ordered that the first victims of the gas showers be the disabled community. That’s right, that is what I said the disabled community to include the intellectually impaired, the mentally retarded if you will. A diagnosis that many of our children with autism also have. To learn more about the Nazi’s treatment of the disabled please refer to T4 HERE.

I asked David a very pointed question about the similarities of Nazi Germany of the late 30’s and into the mid 40’s in comparison to what is happening here in America today. I asked if he saw America going the way of Nazi Germany. His response was (paraphrasing his response) If we are not careful, yes America could in fact move in that direction.

Initially I was going to go into Michael Schiavo (Terri’s husband) and what I thought really happened and the true motivations for him wanting his wife dead (hint, it had nothing to do with her wishes). However, I decided to focus this blog entry on the treatment of Terri and what I fear may become the reality in America, for our children with autism.  For those who may be interested in Michael and to better understand why (I think) Michael Schiavo wanted his wife dead I would strongly suggest that you go HERE. Then scroll to the section of the page that indicates where previous women who were romantically involved with Michael testified to his character among other things.

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