Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So Michael Savage thinks we're faking it for all those autism perks

My dear friend "J" from New York City alerted me to this story, which is burning up the online autism community. On July 16th, conservative talk radio host Michael Savage ranted about autism, saying that 99% of the children with autism are brats that should just cut it out. Naturally, parents are mostly to blame to this, according to the guy. He manages to disparage asthma and autism as "diseases du jour" that parents use to gather public funds. Right. Just check out this New York Times story, which has an audio clip link.

This LA Times article about the response has a quote that says it better than I can:

"Areva Martin, Los Angeles autism activist and co-founder with Donna Ross-Jones of Special Needs Network, a group whose mission is to educate parents of the rights their children have to an appropriate education, has a lot to say about Savage's comments:

"It would be easy to dismiss Mr. Savage's statements as the antics of a radical, ratings-seeking talk show host. However, Mr. Savage has over 8 million listeners, many of whom rely on his show for reliable information. His insidious and baseless statements give credence to the type of pervasive ignorance that families face on a daily basis. Such statements foster discrimination against not only the disabled, but also against people of color. To suggest that minority families feign a diagnosis of autism to receive welfare benefits is absurd and reflective of the entrenched racism that continues to rear its ugly head.

If good old-fashioned discipline was a cure for autism, families across this nation would pull out their switches and get to work. Unfortunately, autism is real and there is no cure -- yelling, screaming, hitting and even the most archaic forms of discipline cannot cure what renowned scientists from around the world recognize as a complex disorder that now impacts one in every 150 children, that lasts a lifetime and impacts every aspect of an individual's development. As a parent of a child with autism, a children's rights activist and attorney, I know both personally and professionally that no one would feign autism for the sake of collecting some amorphous government benefit -- it simply isn't worth it. Thousands of hours of therapy, lifelong care, isolation, grief and isolation are too high a price to pay.

The rapid response of the autism community hopefully will send a loud and clear message that issues of autism impact people of all socioeconomic groups and that issues involving the disabled are matters of human rights."

Not surprisingly, parents and supporters are protesting the WOR-FM station that sponsor's Savage's show, and others are encouraged to tell local stations their feelings. One station has already cancelled his show - somewhat ironically in Mississippi, not often considered an advocacy front-runner. Also, Aflac insurance company has withdrawn advertising from Savage's "Savage Nation" radio show.

Here is the Media Matters link to protest at your local station.

What do you think of all this?


China said...

Maybe if we ignore them, they'll all grow up and make it just fine as reclusive serial killers.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't believe it when we went to Disneyland. Four years ago, all you needed was a doctor's note stating that your child had autism...now, I had to show Brian (fortunately, he was having a mini-meltdown, way too much noise) and "prove' that he needed a disability pass (to go ahead in the line). Then, at the rides, they asked, "where's Brian?". I understand, but yeah, I am joking that Brian doesn't have autism.


Carol said...

Oh yes, doesn't getting a disability pass make the autism all worthwhile ---NOT!!!

Anonymous said...

What made me irritated was that I had to 'prove' that he had autism (yes, my pediatrician and I are making this up, note sarcasm). I just want a free 'fast pass' (no, I want to be able to spend a ton of money and have a happy day at the happiest place on Earth with my family and dragging my son in there, wasn't making him happy!).

The pass did make my visit very happy, though. I appreciate that they did offer it, but to have to 'prove' that he has autism, not so much.


Anonymous said...

Hello, thank you for sharing this important issue. I believe we need to widen our net to include other neurological and mental disorders. For too long, society has not given the same support for mental health as it does for physical health. Pam

Kari said...

I don't have a child with Autism but I do have a child with Down Syndrome and so I never run into problems with people not believing he has a disability. I am appalled that anyone would suggest that a child with Autism has behavior problems because of lack of discipline. UGH what is wrong with people? Obviously they have never walked a day your shoes. I say keep fighting keep advocating and slowly maybe one day our children will all be welcomed with open arms into society and be understood and accepted.
I can't wait to get our disability pass when we go to Canada's wonderland. (NOT) In fact I am considering passing up on that I fear we will be stared at and judged even more than usual.

Carol said...

I've often wondered about the different experiences of parents of kids with "invisible" vs. "visible" disabilities. As Sayer gets older he is getting fewer "free passes" in public from other parents, etc. who don't realize his issue.

We all try out best but can't be there for every single possible mis-step our kids make. Sometimes it is just not worth the energy to explain, I've found.

Brenda said...

I hear the same thing about people with ADHD, chronic pain syndrome, depression, etc. But I think I know what's behind it. There is a psychological disorder referred to as a "dismissive" trait. It stems from an early bonding issue. There's another psychological phenomenon called "denial." It's a defense mechanism for when reality is too overwhelming. You probably know where I'm going with this: I suspect there are a number of critics out there who have issues of their own to deal with ... but instead choose to feel superior by minimizing the challenges of others. I regret that they probably didn't get quality "Mommy time" when they were younger ... but now they just need a loud wake-up call! In the meanwhile, kudos to you and all the other parents, teachers and practioners who aren't afraid to deal with issues like these in a responsive manner!

Carol said...

Maybe we should create a name for this - maybe "Selective Dismissive Denial Disorder (SDDD)?

Anonymous said...

Someone asked me about this yesterday (a mom of two typical boys)...She was blown away by how insensitive it was of him. Augh. Yeah, I chose Brian to have autism and it is all my fault (I sound like my MIL and SIL when they start in on the 'it's not really his autism, just your parenting"...yes, I have in law issues).