Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Robert Ethan Saylor

I am ashamed to say that I heard of this story less than a week ago.  Ashamed because clearly when a 26 year old man dies in a movie theater from what appears to be police restraints it should make a bigger headline.  It seems that if he had been typical and simply overweight and having a heart condition, human interest groups would adopt his cause and burn a fire under investigators to ensure this type of practice doesn't occur again.  But, sadly, that isn't the story.  Robert Ethan Saylor, who was called Ethan, was a 26 year old man with Down Syndrome.  His care giver had brought him to see Zero Dark Thirty and upon leaving the movie she went to get the car and left him in the lobby.  At which point, he tried to enter the theater to watch the movie again.  At this point, he was told to buy another ticket or leave the theater.  He became upset and emotional and having a history of aggressive behavior when being touched by strangers began to react.  Three off duty deputies were called.  They proceeded to attempt to escort him out of the theater and he became more aggitated and reportedly shouted, "I want my mommy!" and they began to handcuff his large frame, he melted and landed face down on the ground.  His heart rate was weak when paramedics arrived and attempts to revive him failed.  He died that day over a movie ticket.

I have tears streaming down my face, imagining one of my sweet boys, confused, lonely and scared screaming for me to help them and I am not there.  My heart pounds and aches with the fear that any mother feels when faced with their child dying alone and frightened.   There are many stories of Ethan's loving, kind nature, his respect and awe for the police.  There are also stories of his history of violent outbursts with lack of communication or full understanding in situations that he became scared.  I am not sure how many times these incidents happened, maybe daily, maybe yearly.  Maybe it doesn't matter.  Maybe the point is this.  There were presumably people around witnessing this event.  People who could have offered to pay a $7 ticket to assist him and de-esculate the situation that clearly got out of hand quickly.  There seems to be many holes in this story.  Where was the caregiver and why did they leave him if he was prone to non-cooperative behavior?  Why weren't these police trained and aware of his mental capacity not being typical and how to calm down a situation such as this rather than amp it up?  And let's just say he was typical and yes overweight and yes had a heart condition that no one could see, shouldn't police know the risks in restraining such individuals with force and the consequence of death being possible?  And really all for what?  A movie ticket. 

Jeremy and I had a long discussion about this case.  You would think that my reaciton was one of horror and blame.  You would most likely be surprised to know that I do not err on the side of my children needing "special" treatment, any of them.  Recently I was discussing preschools with Nolan's therapists and putting him in a typical school with three year olds.  I said something, "I don't want him to take away from the entire class room of children because his needs will require more attention then the rest.  I don't think that is fair for the typical children."  I don't.  I think that if he can walk and communicate and listen then great, if not, he needs to be in an environement that is staffed to assist him and not take away from the others in his class.  I felt the same was about Ethan.  If he had a tendecy to struggle with strangers and get violent, then he shouldn't have been left alone, ever.  Should he be watching such a violent movie if this is something that he struggles with?  Why couldn't someone just buy him a damn ticket?  All those things race through my mind.  I don't think simply that because he has a disablity the whole world should be expected to know his needs and act accordingly.  We make decisions as parents, to put our children in siutions every day, we weigh those decisions based on their abilities, typcial or different.  I hope that most people will help them, hug them if they fall, stand up to a bully if needed, give them a phone to call home if they are lost, we all hope that those around us see our babies through our loving lenses.  Unfortunatley that isn't the world we live in all the time, every day.

I was talking to my aunt and we were talking about my frustration with people with disabilities doing jobs that are less then perfect and expecting patrons of stores to be OK with that because they have a disability.  I have struggled with this because for me it gives my sons a harder time, when someone is in a hurry to get going and slowly each item is being scanned ever so perfectly through the line, and time is ticking, their frustrations growing, many of them aren't thinking the thoughts that we would hope for about that person with such disability behind the counter.  And then she said something that changed it for me.  "We could all use a moment to slow down and see people."  It's true.  We could. Please do.  Please see my boys.  I promise to see yours. 


  1. excellent advice and a lesson I feel my daughter has taught me, there is joy in slowing down to truly see other people

  2. Hey sista face just poppin in to say hello! So nice to meet you, you have a fantastic blog here. Cant wait to follow along.
    Have a fantastic week!
    BTW such an adorable blog title


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