John Travolta’s 16 year old son, Jett, died today after hitting his head during a seizure in the bathroom of the family’s hotel room in the Bahamas. 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. From 2007:
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 HollywoodInterrupted.com 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.
Sad, sad story. Should the kid have been on anti-seizure medication? Was he?
UPDATE: JMG reader Jon sends us tonight’s Larry King clip on Jett Travolta’s death.
UPDATE II: An ER physician writes Andrew Sullivan to express his suspicions regarding the account of the incident.