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John Travolta’s Son Jett Dies At Age 16

This is a parent’s absolute worst nightmare.

My heart goes out to Mr Travolta, Ms Preston, their daughter and the rest of their family and friends. I saw the story earlier today and was horrified for them.

Then I read this on Joe.My.God, regarding Jett’s possible autistic diagnosis,which the MSNBC story chose not to cover in its report, and it became very personal for me.What leapt out was this:

Jett, the son of Travolta and his actress wife Kelly Preston had a long history of seizures. For years, the couple has faced accusations that they were not treating or acknowledging Jett’s obvious autism due to their belief in Scientology.

There was also a link to a 2007 NY Post story:

Travolta has either pretended there is nothing wrong with Jett, 15, or claimed his condition is Kawasaki syndrome, a disease characterized by high fever, skin rash and swelling of the lymph nodes. But parents of autistic children say that Travolta should join Sylvester Stallone, Doug Flutie, Jenny McCarthy and Toni Braxton, who all have autistic kids, in raising awareness and research funds to cure the disease.

One magazine editor who has interviewed Travolta more than once says that the star’s son is disabled – and yet he continues to behave as if nothing is wrong. “Travolta sits there in interviews talking about how Jett loves to read or play sports, but it is clear that the boy can barely do either,” the editor said. Tim Kenny, the father of a 4-year-old autistic girl from Ocala, Fla., near the Travolta estate, told Mark Ebner of that he introduced the actor in February at a restaurant he manages “as one autistic child’s father to another” but that Travolta was in denial. “Scientology is keeping him from acknowledging his son’s autism. They see it as a weakness,” Kenny told Ebner.

According to the Church of Scientology, people with mental illnesses are “degraded” and capable of curing themselves by working harder on the church’s teachings. “It’s fine with me if Travolta doesn’t want to become the poster child for autistic parents, but every time the parent of an autistic child hears about someone else who is in this fight, it makes them feel better,” said the editor who interviewed him.

Okay, now my turn for some opinions… (surprise, surprise huh?)

First, a quick refresher- Charlie and I are the parents of 2 lovely daughters: Mary, our incredibly talented artist and politically aware young teen, and Jean. Jean was diagnosed as autistic when she was 3 and has made incredible progress the past 8 years.

Yet it took me years to acknowledge to myself that she was autistic. It said so on paper, and we immediately put her into a busy and varied schedule of intensive therapies immediately upon her diagnosis.

I could even tell other parents that our daughter was “highly-functioning autistic”- the qualifier was not for them, but for ME. And it held the same reality in my head as if I had conversationally told them my daughter was a purple kangaroo.

Denial? Hell YEAH. Not for any religious reason, not because I felt my child was damaged, and not because I didn’t accept her.

I didn’t want to accept what I perceived her future to be.

But as time passed, as milestones were achieved, as I learned more about autism and learned not to limit Jean’s life in my mind, my acceptance grew.