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Jett Travolta's Autism Tragedy

By September 29, 2009

According to ABC News, it's now official.  Jett Travolta was, in fact, autistic:

The actor testified that his son Jett, 16, was autistic and suffered seizures every five to 10 days. He said the seizures would last 45 seconds to a minute and Jett typically slept for 12 hours after each one. "He was autistic. He suffered from a seizure disorder," Travolta told the jury when asked about his son's condition.

The testimony was apparently the first time that Travolta has talked publicly about his son's autism. In the past he had said Jett suffered from Kawasaki disease, a rare condition in children that involves inflamation of the blood vessels.

The Travoltas have no explained why they felt more comfortable describing their son as having Kawasaki disease -- or whether Jett suffered from several separate but related disorders (Kawasaki, autism, and seizure disorders).

What does John Travolta's revelation mean to you?

September 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm
(1) Sandy says:

Maybe they felt more comfortable living private lives which is bound not to be private for sure now. There is no law that says anyone has to tell the world their child has anything at all so however they lived their lives and what they decided to tell anyone wouldn’t effect me at all or mean anything. Asking if it does seems asking those to judge that families choices.
Maybe it’s part of scientology, building strength within than building strength within others part of an autism community. It’s apparent seizures was the more serious of illnesses, of which their child died from.

September 29, 2009 at 1:39 pm
(2) momof3 says:

I really feel that it is a personal choice. Just because they live the life of a celebrity doesn’t mean they have to make their whole life public. I feel that it judgement and unfair. People in the autism community complain that the public judges them for their child’s behaviors, but then turns around and does the same.

September 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm
(3) Kelly Noll says:

I think that Jett Travolta was well taken care of during the course of his life. In addition, he was deeply loved. In my opinion, that’s really all that counts.

September 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm
(4) George says:

Famous Scientologists are under a lot of pressure to refuse to admit that autism exists. It makes me sad that Jett might have been denied the treatment he needed due to this cult’s influence. Scientology is not just a silly cult about space aliens, but a dangerous thing.

September 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm
(5) barbaraj says:

Kawasaki heart ischemia, vasculitis, cerebral vasculopathy..autism?
Maybe they are similar, perhaps the same cause, different manifestations. Coming from me, one crohns, one kawasaki, and one ? spectrum..I believe mercury/vaccines are involved in all. One day maybe there will be just one label, vaccine associated damage. Were women getting toxic shock from tampons, or was it the material in the tampon causing overgrowth of bacteria, producing a toxin..reyes the same, aspirin/pathogen ..toxin..one day this will be known to be the same, a pathogen a chemical = toxin

I think he had to say autism for the courts to understand, it doesn’t change what he may believe, and that could be correct, kawasaki with cerebral vasculopathy,,I think of this similar to hib, one child may have epiglotitis, another meningitis another pneumonia, while another has a runny nose, all the same nasty bacteria. Different manifestations in different children. With vaccines, the theme seems to be a kind of vasculitis and inflammation, no matter what organ it hits…thankfully it’s usually the injection site alone.

September 30, 2009 at 1:53 am
(6) Stephanie says:

I agree with Sandy,Kelly, and Momof3. I feel that Jett was well taken care of, was loved and its just tragic he passed away.
I feel if the Travolta’s wanted to go public they could have.
I respect the Travolt’s, send my regards, its sad to have any child pass away on you no matter from what the cause. Nothing but respect and admiration for them.

September 30, 2009 at 2:42 pm
(7) Katherine Chapman says:

I agree with all of these posts.
Well written my friends.

September 30, 2009 at 7:07 pm
(8) Marlo says:

As a mother of a child with Autism I feel for the Travolta’s. First and foremost, their family’s privacy is their business. It shouldn’t matter to anyone but them whether or not Jett was Autistic. Autism generally isn’t as “accepted” as a medical condition as other disorders are. Unless you have a child with Autism or are close to one it’s difficult to understand what parents of children with Autism endure every day. My heart goes out to the Travolta’s.

October 1, 2009 at 12:28 pm
(9) Carol says:

I am actually really irritated by it. As the mom of a child with autism all I can think about is the good they could have done for the cause had they been upfront about it from the beginning.

October 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm
(10) Paula says:

I admit that I have conflicting feelings about the “revelation” that Jett had autism. On the one hand, I certainly agree that the Travoltas were under no obligation to reveal that their son had autism. But, it seems to me that they flat out lied about it–either because of their scientology beliefs or because they wanted to preserve their privacy as a family. As a mother of a six year old boy who has autism, I do understand wanting to protect your child from the public. And, I do feel sympathy for the Travoltas, or anyone who loses a child.

October 1, 2009 at 4:54 pm
(11) Diana says:

The Travoltas had a right to their privacy and to protect their son. It’s a shame that people feel the need to invade in a families lives. My son has aspergers and it is a struggle everyday. Jett was well taken care and loved. That’s all that matters. People do not need to label or judge.

October 3, 2009 at 12:27 am
(12) Twyla says:

These are my thoughts:

- We often have the feeling that we know celebrities because we read about them and see them on TV and in movies. But we don’t know them.

- It must be terribly hard to live your life constantly in the public eye.

- Maybe the Travolta’s could have benefited people with autism by going public and getting involved in autism causes. Maybe by getting more involved they could have found more helpful treatments for their son, or maybe not.

- But their decision not to go public and get involved is and was their business. I don’t judge them and I don’t pretend to understand them. May Jett rest in peace, and may his family still find joy in their memories, and grieve without being bothered and judged by people who don’t know them. I enjoy watching John Travolta in movies. I’m not his sister or daughter or friend or any other person who knows him well enough to even form an opinion (whether fair or unfair) on his actions.

- And I just think that celebrities, like anyone else, deserve some privacy, especially in regard to family issues.

October 3, 2009 at 10:56 pm
(13) D says:

I feel for the Travolta’s. I thnk a label of Kawasaki’s is more socially acceptable and carries less baggage than the label of Autism. The whole world judges celebrities. We all have our blindspots and our comfort zones.

When someone says Kawasaki’s, there is rarely a preconceived idea or prejudice. I think what they did was protective and reasonable.

How far have we really come as a society, anyway?

October 5, 2009 at 9:38 am
(14) J says:

I don’t think this is an issue of privacy. I think it’s all about religion and that the Travolta’s (no matter how many nannies they employed to care for their son) did not treat their son’s medical condition, namely the seizure disorder. Treatments don’t often stop the problem altogether, but not trying to decrease the number of seizures through medication . . . I don’t understand why they aren’t held accountable for that. Other parents are. It’s in the news all the time, and no one worries about their privacy.

October 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm
(15) angie says:

All of these comments are truely from people that have no idea how hard it is to live with autism. If you don’t know anything about it, shut up. The Travolta’s were not comfortable with the fact that they had a child with a mental illness. They could have done a lot more for Jett. Why would you stop a medication that he needed? Because they wanted him to die.

October 10, 2009 at 11:57 pm
(16) Twyla says:

Angie, I do live with autism. I have no idea what the Travolta’s did or did not do for their son, what medications he was on, whether they stopped a med, and if so why (side effects?) I feel that all of this is none of my business, and I don’t know enough to have an opinion on their actions.

I do know that all of us with autism in the family receive very little support from mainstream medicine, very little in the way of effective medical care. Read Jenny McCarthy’s account of her son’s seizures and the meds they tried — the meds were terrible.

October 14, 2009 at 9:02 am
(17) WithoutLovingParents says:

In America, where the Travolta’s live, we are allowed the right to religion of our choice. If the Travolta’s wish to believe in Scientology that is the choice that is free to them. Scientology, is NOT what killed, or assisted (as some would dare suggest) in Jett’s death. There is NO CURE for Autism… There is no reason to drag a child, or a teen with Autism (who in the first place hates being touched, handled, manipulated, or in strange places to begin with) to a doctor to be poked and proded.

I am a Methodist, NOT a Scientologist. But I have a friend who has an Autistic child. That child (now a teenager the same age as Jett was) who is just great the way he is. His mother loves his unconditionally, and with all her heart (as I am sure the Travolta’s loved Jett) which is more than I can say about my own biological parents, and even my adopted parents.

It is not for us to put the Famous on trial or to judge them. We must only judge ourselves and if we may have done things differently, then let us if we are faced with the opportunity. I don’t judge anyone but myself and I think that others should look in their own back yards (closets for some who may not understand) before judging the Travolta’s…

May Jett rest in peace, and may John and Kelly find peace of heart in this hard time…

October 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm
(18) Silvia Planchett says:

Same guy that pilots a gas guzzling 747, what a creep!

October 25, 2009 at 7:15 pm
(19) therapist says:

I agree that disclosing a child’s illness to the public is a personal choice. However, how exhausting it must have been all these years to keep up a facade. The Travolta’s must be worn out. I feel the most, however, for their daughter. I myself would have rather set an example for her by showing acceptance regardless of what her brother was diagnosed with. It’s one thing to avoid showcasing to the public, its another to keep a child hidden. It implies that they were embarrassed of him.

November 11, 2009 at 7:59 pm
(20) LuvMyASDtwins says:

Living a life with the daily effects that Autism has on a family, is a stuggle in it’s own. It can be confusing just for a parent, let alone family members. Now consider the WHOLE WORLD looking in, judging… Most people think Autism=Rainman. The information out there is hard to understand and the media has done little to reverse this common misconception. There are even certain celebraties who have made our struggle even harder by making their own diagnoses of these children, saying they are not Autistic just stupid, although they have no medical training…please keep in mind that Autism IS A SPECTRUM!!
I too have felt that had the Travolta’s been more open about Jett’s Autism, it may have had a great impact on our community, BUT… I respect their personal decisions and journey. Autism has an individual effect, not just for the one diagnosed, but for all that have any kind of relationship with them. We must maintain our right to care for our children the way we see fit!! Jett had a wonderful family that loved him, all you have to do is look at the pictures, which still move me to tears. His absence is truly being felt by many!!
I am thankful that Mr. Travolta has spoken those words “Jett had Autism.” I take this as a blessing. This HAD to be excrutiating to admitt for him… but one that puts a beautiful face to the cause… the numbers are spiraling out of control…

December 8, 2009 at 12:37 am
(21) Jer says:

I feel for the Travolta family as they suffer from their loss. However, if what I am reading about Scientology is true, then perhaps Jett’s death could have been prevented in some way by offering him the treatments that he needed for an obvious physical illness.

August 6, 2010 at 10:21 pm
(22) gina lanier says:

the Travolta’s should be ashamed of themselves
as parents of an autistic child. with their wealth and celebrity status they could have assisted in the fight for autism. I feel that they were ashamed of their son. and tried to hide his different demeanor.
autistic children are special. they are funny,cute. they can figure out stuff a 50yr old “normal” person cant.
my question is why???? why would you hide the condition of your childs mental capacity ? my grandson has autism
and yes he can be a handful, he is different, I am so PROUD to be his nana. I and his mom take him every where we go. some folks at stores /public stare. thats ok it is human nature. he loves being out. he loves shopping for elmo videos . he is the most beuatiful child i have ever met.

December 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm
(23) Ellen C. says:

I am a special education teacher who deals with children on the Autism Spectrum daily. I am the sister of a man who has lived his entire life with a seizure disorder. If you have met one autistic person, you have met one autistic person. Autism manifests uniquely in all individuals who share a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. A seizure disorder, is however, a condition that REQUIRES medication for the person to be SAFE. My brother has had seizures that have landed him in the hospital..WHY? Because he didn’t take his medication. It does not take a long time to make the connection when you live with someone with a seizure disorder.

It is my understanding from what I read that the Travoltas had not given Jett his medication. If this is true, then he was in DANGER no matter where he was. I don’t know if Scientology rejects Seizures Disorders as well as Autism. Perhaps they had not given him his medication because of a belief taught in Scientology. Regardless, to not be honest about a brain disorder called Epilepsy is parentally irresponsible.

January 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm
(24) authorkid says:

@ barbaroj That’s just it. Nobody knows where autism comes from, that’s why its such a struggle to help people with autism. It is totally incurable too. Its interesting…yet complex.

January 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm
(25) Lorraine Harrietha says:

I worked with students on the spectrum. I was with a male who has autism. I was in the washroom with him when I could see that he was starting to have a seizure. He was about to fall and hit a sink when I grabbed him. I placed him on the floor of the washroom and called to a student in the hall to call 911. When the fire truck and paramedics came I was lying on the floor beside him supporting his head.
I went in the ambulance with him to the hospital. The paramedic was the only person to personally thank me for what I had done to support the student. I met his parents at the hospital. I was the only person from the school who was there at the hospital. I forgot to say that I was an educational assistant who has taken many first aid courses.
Not one person from the school, administrator, teacher had thanked me for what I had done to help the boy.
I finally took an early retirement from the school board.
I have always felt under appreciated! I do not miss working for the school board, but I do miss the students.
Just my story! Lorraine from Toronto, Ontario Canada

March 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm
(26) Wendy says:

As a parent with two sons with autism, we each must learn to deal with our childern in our own way. But most importantly all that really matters is how we as parent help our childern to grow and feel loved . But just as important our kids need to feel accepted. Some people can be less then kind to those different from them. That may be why as parents they kept in private.

April 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(27) Allen says:

It would be hard for me to judge not knowing the Travoltas personnally. Different people have different ways of dealing with their kids differences. Education plays a big part as does income, probably. The guy in Rainman movie was put into an institution, though.

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