Savage Ideas About Autism

The other day I read an article in the paper that conservative radio talk show host, Michael Savage, had said some things to make parents of autistic children upset. Then yesterday, on the way to Ohio, I was flipping radio channels and came across his show. Scott and I were both listening and we could hardly contain ourselves!
First of all Mr. Savage appears to have a lot of hot air and freely gave out his personal opinion with what appeared to be not much research. It was very aggravating. For years parents of autistic children have worked to educate the public about autism. They have made people aware that there is an autism spectrum. That autism is more than the most severe case. With all his spewing of misinformation he seems to be peddling backwards.
These were his claims:
#1 That it cannot possibly be true that 1 out of every 150 kids is now somewhere on the autism spectrum. ( Okay, I will not say much about this….except to say that YES there are increasing numbers of children afflicted with autism-like symptoms. If it’s not autism, then it is something that certainly mimics autism!) The real question we need to ask, why is this? What has changed in the past 15 or so years? Better, more accurate diagnosis could account for some of this BUT maybe it is environmental. AND if it is some sort of environmental factor then what? AND what can we do about it?
#2 He made the comment that certain parents are allowing their children to be diagnosed as autistic for financial reasons.
GIVE ME A BREAK! In all my years of teaching (as a special educator) I NEVER came across a parent who wanted their child to get the autism diagnosis. It is a devastating diagnosis. The anguish that parents go through is heart breaking. NO ONE wants their children to have to live with autism…..I don’t care if you paid them 10 million dollars–they would turn it down and opt for a healthy child. I know it’s his opinion….but this is just the most ridiculous piece of junk I’ve ever heard.
#3 Mr. Savage seemed fixated on one or two things that might be on a screening for autism. He kept mentioning that children who put blocks in a row are not necessarily autistic. OR children that count all the tiles in the ceiling are not autistic. Well, duh. Sure those might be some things that some autistic children do. BUT for goodness sake there is a long list of things that are looked at in order to form a diagnosis. Overall autism is a communication disorder. These children have a difficult time communicating. Social behaviors are a challenge for them. Many children with autism have other health/medical issues and spend a lot of time with various doctors and therapists.
#4 He didn’t seem to get that autism IS a spectrum disorder. Yes, there are some kids that sit and rock and don’t appear to know anything that is going on around them. That is definitely a severe case of autism. BUT that is NOT the only type of autistic behavior. Then there are some cases of children/adults with autism that are able to function in society, with the communication difficulties….people might find them a little “quirky”.
Savage was not looking at the big picture…..and he needs to. Children are not neatly wrapped up in a uniform autism “package”.
#5 He also made the comment that the educational system (i.e.teachers, psychologists, speech/language therapists) are not medical professionals and they really shouldn’t be diagnosing. Well, all I have to say is that any child that is being diagnosed would have MEDICAL doctors making a diagnosis…..the educational system would assist. There is a lot of observation that goes into a diagnosis too. Good educators can give a lot of valuable information. Educators are there to help create individual education plans to assist these children and help them learn.
All in all Scott and I were both left very frustrated after listening to this radio show. Yes, we could have flipped stations but I felt like I needed to listen. It was kind of like a car wreck…..you don’t want to look but you do anyway. Same sort of thing.
As someone who considers herself an advocate for people with challenges….and has an especially soft place in my heart for autistic children…..I think we in this country need to get to the bottom of what is going on with autism. More research needs to be done. There is something going on and we need to find out what…..so that the diagnosis of autism becomes something that people only read about in history books.

2 thoughts on “Savage Ideas About Autism

  1. Pingback: Incredibly Unique | It Just Dawned On Me

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