Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Heart Goes Out to the Travolta Family

I know they will probably never read this and I'm not writing this thinking they will, but I just want to say how very sorry I am for John Travolta and his family over the loss of their son Jett. It really hit me yesterday when it was the first thing I saw on Yahoo news.

John Travolta has been in some of my favorite movies, Grease, Saturday Night Fever (and I even like Saturday Night Fever 2 for all it's cornieness). I watched "Welcome Back Kotter" as a kid and like most young ladies in the 70's, had a tremendous crush on him. From all reports he seems like a super nice guy, and given how long he and his wife have been married, you got give him credit for that too.

It wasn't until recently that while surveying various blogs that it came to my attention that rumor had it his son was Autistic. I was fascinated since it seems like most celebrities with children with Autism make it their cause celeb. I had never heard that rumor before so I started investigating. I personally never found a for sure sort of source saying it was true. There were stories on some Kawasakis Disease Jett was said to have. But no concrete evidence.

I got sorta irritated by this. Was he hiding his Autistic son? I started finding a lot of photos of the family, and perhaps I was looking for "somehthing", a "sign", but there were shots that he had the"look" in. I don't know if one just gets this ability from being around their own kid and their friends Autistic kids to pick up on this, but there is a "look" to kids with Autism that seem common among many, sort of a disconnectedness when everyone else is looking at the camera and smiling in a photo, eyes elsewhere, mouth slightly open, both expressionless. The way the hands and the body are held. I can't explain it but somehow, you can just tell. It's not a bad thing, it just is, and I know not all kids with Autism look this way in every photo or everyday, but it happens. I picked up on this in some of the photos I saw of Jett Travolta, but again, was I looking for it?

Anyway, I sorta lost my interest in the subject after that. Clearly, the family didn't want to make it public if it were true. I read today that Scientologists don't even recognize Autism as it's own condition, but as a mental illness like any other. Maybe that's why they didn't address it as such.

But when I heard the news of Jett's horrible death, my mind went right back to this thought that he could have been Autistic, and it made the news of a young mans death even that much worse. I have never ever connected Autism to any sort of threat of death due to it being a condition. Not like Leukemia or something similar. But, I know a lot of kids who have seizures due to their Autism, and apparantly, this could have been the case. Our boy has never been tested for seizures, but just the other day, my sister noted how he can gaze for long periods without blinking, something I never noticed. Could that be seizure activity?

This story is so sad and tragic no matter what was going on with Jett. I sort of hope though, that if and when they do find what caused it, they might address it to the general public and let people know if this is something that could happen to them, maybe raise public awareness. I know, a lot to ask of a family who just lost a child. I think though, that is why this particular story, despite Travolta's celebrity, has affected me. It might be hitting home in a way I never thought about or wanted to!