Zeus Cox

Photo of a young boy with brown curly hair, brown eyes, and pale-brown skin, wearing a fleecy sweatshirt and pants with a Batman logo. The photo is taken outdoors, and he is smiling and waving his hands.Name: Zeus Geovani Cox.
Died: July 5, 2021.
Age at death: 3.
Cause of death: Abuse (Blunt trauma; internal bleeding).
Location: Lafayette, Indiana, USA.

Zeus was “very active and full of life”. His family suspected he had autism, though there is no evidence he had ever been evaluated. He had been staying with his great-grandmother for several months, but was returned to his mother. In court, his aunt testified that she believed his mother was unfit and abusive, and used to hit Zeus and curse at him.

Zeus spent a month living with his mother and her boyfriend before he was found dead from internal injuries caused by a severe beating. His mother was convicted of murder; her boyfriend’s trial is pending.

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April Zavala

Name: April Heather Zavala.
Died: June 14, 2020.
Age at death: 24.
Cause of death: Strangled.
Location: Elko, Nevada, USA.

Whether April had a medical diagnosis of autism is unknown. However, her mother labeled her as having autism after doing research on her own, saying that April had “high-functioning autism” and that she had recently undergone a “chemical change” in her brain that made her much harder to care for.

April’s mother strangled her because she wanted to dress herself instead of letting her mother dress her. She said that caring for April during the COVID pandemic had become too stressful. At the time of her death, April had not seen a doctor in several years.

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Malachi Lawson

A small boy with thick glasses, front teeth missing, hair in cornrows, wearing a soccer shirt.Name: Malachi Lawson.
Died: August 4, 2019.
Age at death: 4.
Cause of death: Fatal abuse (burned with hot water).
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Malachi loved Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse. He liked dancing and his favorite color was blue. He had been taken into foster care, but returned to his mother and stepmother. He was suspected to be on the autism spectrum, and walked with a limp because of a fractured thighbone from when he was a baby.

Malachi’s mother and her partner initially reported him missing. Later, they admitted they had burned him by making him sit in a bathtub full of hot water after he had a potty-training accident. His body was found in a dumpster.

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Eiichiro Kumazawa

Kumazawa, EiichiroName: Eiichiro Kumazawa.
Died: June 1, 2019.
Age at death: 44.
Cause of death: Murder (Stabbed).
Location: Tokyo, Japan.

Eiichiro, after being bullied in school as a child, eventually withdrew into his house and stopped going out.

Eiichiro’s father stabbed him to death in a premeditated attack. He claimed self-defense, but Eiichiro had 36 stab wounds, while his father was barely scratched. Prosecutors pointed out that had Eiichiro’s father been worried about his son’s violent behavior, he could easily have consulted a doctor.

Eiichiro may not have been autistic. He was, however, a hikikomori (shut-in) with a developmental disorder. –Ed.

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Sara Lincoln

Name: Sara Elizabeth Lincoln.
Died: January 4, 2019.
Age at death: 25.
Cause of death: Suicide/Neglect (Denied autism assessment).
Location: Richmond, North Yorkshire, England, UK.

23-year-old Sara had an alcohol and drug problem that had been getting worse ever since she left home at age 20. She suffered from intense anxiety, which she tried to quell by using drugs; but her drug use spiraled out of control.

Her worried mother saw that she had all the traits of autism–instead of interacting with people, she would try to guess what they wanted to hear and say that. She tried to get the NHS to give her daughter an autism assessment, explaining what she suspected and that she worried that her daughter might be at high risk for suicide. But the doctors ignored her, insisted that Sara had “anxiety and social anxiety”, and did not send her for an assessment.

Sara took her own life at the age of 25.

Editor’s note: We may never know for sure whether Sara had autism, but her behavior is not unusual for a young autistic woman with social anxiety. Her treatment-resistant anxiety and her mother’s observations should have prompted her doctors to at least look into the possibility that she might be on the spectrum; however, like many autistic young women, Sara did not fit the stereotype of autism, and so the professionals did not believe she could possibly have autism. Had she had proper support, she might still have committed suicide–but then again, she might not have. Her odds would, in any case, have been better.

References: Richmond: Mother thought daughter had autism two years before death