Kaylea Titford’s neglect was appalling- yet media focused on her weight

Trigger warning: this piece contains descriptions of death of a disabled person by neglect and fatphobia in the media surrounding the Kaylea Titford case. Please take care and only read if you feel able.

When I first read about the death of Kaylea Titford, I was shocked: both by the deep neglect she experienced—culminating in her passing at her home in Wales in October 2020, aged just 16—and at how misleading the headlines were.

Parents killed girl by letting her become obese” Announced BBC News, The Evening standard declared “Father of obese teenager found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.” 

Kaylea was a disabled girl born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus who lived and died in appalling conditions because her parents—enabled by a society that consistently devalues disabled lives—chose not to prioritise her care. 

Yet the mainstream media’s primary concern seemed to be that Kaylea was ‘obese’. 

all review

As We See It is Being Hailed as a Bastion of Autism Inclusion, but is it?

This article contains spoilers, as well as discussion of ableism/sexism in the show that some readers may find distressing.

Growing up as an undiagnosed autistic girl, there was little positive representation of people like me on television. The first piece of ‘autism media’ I consumed was probably the 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which received criticism from autistic activists for its stereotypical portrayal of Christopher Boone, a ‘savant’ with an extreme talent for mathematics.

The book led many readers to believe that mathematic genius is typical among autistics.

For me, the stereotype of the (invariably male) maths geek loomed so large that I doubted whether I could, in fact, be autistic. In my early 20s, however, I started seeing more talk about ‘female autism’ online, and I was empowered to seek my diagnosis.

Several years on, autistic representation in popular media is thankfully richer and more diverse than in the past.

Therefore, when I heard about As We See It, an Amazon Original series billed as a wholesome comedy about three autistic friends living together (two males, one female), I was optimistic. Cute premise, I thought. Why isn’t anyone talking about this?