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Parents of "autism brats" fight back

July 21, 2008 |  6:07 pm

When Michael Savage, radio talk show host, said July 16 that 99% of children with autism were "brats" who should be told to "cut the act out," one could only wonder if he somehow got his childhood "A" disease diagnoses mixed up. Maybe he was thinking of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD affects 2 million children and can be treated with behavior modification or drugs, but for many decades, children with the disorder were considered to be just bad kids who misbehaved, and poor parenting was pointed to as the cause.

But autism? Does anyone doubt that it's a significant developmental disorder? It's characterized by poor social interaction, problems with communication -- both verbal and nonverbal -- repetitive activities and hand flapping. Those are problems a 2- or 3-year-old, the age at which the disorder is often diagnosed, would have trouble thinking up.

But when the New York Times gave Savage a chance to explain himself, he said that while his estimate that nine out of 10 kids are faking it might have been a little high, he said he was proud to have prodded a discussion. He stuck by his comments.

Meanwhile, as protesters from Autism United, a coalition of advocacy organizations, gathered today outside the New York City WOR radio studio, which employs Savage, parents such as Martin Schwartzman, whose 15-year-old son Robbie has autism, are up in arms. "I couldn't understand why someone could be so heartless and so insensitive, and also so ignorant for a national talk show host," Schwartzman said on WCBS-TV.

Savage says he's giving over his three-hour broadcast on Monday to a discussion of autism. Meanwhile, Aflac, the insurance company, has withdrawn advertising from the show.

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."

-- Susan Brink

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Comments (78)

Michael Savage's comments truly bring to light how ignorance in the entertainment industry drives some entertainers to be in the spotlight. Unfortunately, Mr. Savage brings this ignorance to others, which influences perception. As a parent of an autistic child, the ignorance he brought forward adds to the uphill fight every relative of an autistic child must endure. In my opinion, Mr. Savage should be fined hundreds of hours in community service at a school for autism.

I am a father of a 3 1/2 year old boy with autism.. Savage is an idiot. He commented, apparently, that "he knows true disability", having had a brother with a "severe disability". Savage does not know anything about disabilities, no matter his family connection.

Savage will be found to be the raging fool that he is, and, hopefully, his voice will be silenced. What irony for his insane comments about children who often have no clear voice. He is also a coward. Try finding any way to comment on his ridiculous website.

Savage is a fool.

This is not the first time that Savage is out there offending people and pretending to talk competently on issues he is clearly uninformed.

I am only glad that someone finally was brave enough to stand up against him. It his high time for WOR to replace him.

He brought numbers and attention, but they should not let him destroy what they have built for years including the fruits of his own work. Just sack him

he should not be fired-free speech
but we are all free to boycott his advertisers
and let them know why you will not do business with them
you are free to extol any opinion you want.
just dont whine about the consequences
i dont listen nor do i care what he says
but callous statements like his are a good reason to
reduce his financial earning power
please will someone let all of us know who advertises
on his show
so we can avoid those business'

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A TWISTED ,SICK HOMOPHOB WHO'S TRYING TO COME TO GRIPS WITH HIS OWN SEXUAL HANGUPS{IN MY OPINION}... SOCIOPATHIC MENTAL MIDGET WHO SUFFERS FROM DELUSIONS OF GRANDUER AND AN UNHEALTHTY HATERED OF HIS FATHER{IN MY OPINION} ...IS GIVEN A VENUE TO SPREW HATEFUL,INFLAMMATORY AND DIVISIVE REMARKS THAT IS MEANT TO DEMEAN ,ANTAGONIZE ,SHOCK AND DISGUST A NORMAL PERSON'S SENSIBILITY ALL IN THE NAME OF RATINGS WHICH=SPONSORS WHICH=ADVERTISEMENT WHICH=$$$$,,, IN THE GLORY DAYS GONE BY AN IRATE FATHER MIGHT HAVE TAKEN OF HIS GLOVE SMACKED ole savage ACROSS THE FACE AND DEMANDED SATISFACTION BUT ALAS THOSE CHIVALROUS DAY HAVE LONG PASSED AND FREE SPEECH AND VARIOUS FEDERAL,STATE AND LOCAL LAWS DOESNOT ALLOW POPPING A CAP IN SCROUNDRELS NO MATTER HOW DESERVING{OOOOHHHHH HOW I LONG FOR THOSE GLORY DAYS|} {THIS IN NOWAY ADVOCATE VIOLENCE AGAINST ANY OF THE NUMEROUS MENTAL MIDGETS WHO EVERY DAY CONTAMINATE THE VARIOUS MEDIA VENUES WITH THE SAME OR LIKE GARBAGE ........I'M JUST VENTING

Mr. Savage's statements is comes from a man who hasn't a clue about this condition. He hasn't a clue about vaccines that have caused autism. He is an old, obnoxious, simple-minded, conservative rambling, fool. Hey Savage, any dope that listens to you and actually believes you know something, has a brain that is solid rock!

Savage is the kid that should have been whacked because he was a brat, years ago! Sit down fool, and quit Savagely trashing people that can't defend themselves!

Sorry to say he is right, Iam a medical professional and most children are just that "spoiled brats" with parents that have never taught the child to mind, yes there are some true autism children, but its much easier to label the child with
"autism" and use it as an excuse for the childs behavior. Also the schools love it because they get more money for every "disablility" child the same goes for
so called ADD, its mostly a scam by certain medical professionals, psych professionals and govt to excuse the childs behavior and give the parents a way out of being responsible for the child.

Michael "Savage" Weiner's comments about autism are consistent with his approach to all subjects - to appeal to an audience of ignorant, dim witted, angry, bigoted, fools. That's why he calls himself Savage instead of using his real name, Weiner. Do you suppose that's because his show "Savage Nation" wouldn't go over so well with his audience demographic if it were known as "Weiner Nation?"

I think Mr. Savage should be willing to personally back up his challenge to every parent of an autistic child. If Mr. Savage is convinced, I suppose by virtue of his Ph.D. in herbal medicines, that all autistic children have no disease whatsoever and can be cured by parental discipline, I propose that Mr. Savage should offer to personally prove his point. Give Mr. Savage one child who has been medically diagnosed as autistic for a week, and see if his superior parenting skills can demonstrate that the medical diagnosis is wrong and that the child can be educated out of the autistic state. In fact, I think Mr. Savage should bet his future career on it. If he is so right, then he himself can prove that he can make an autistic child non-autistic through "proper parenting". If he succeeds, then he has proven his point beyond a shadow of a doubt. If he fails, then he owes every parent of an autistic child (including this writer) a public apology as the very last message heard on radio from Mr. Savage for the rest of his career. Deal?

Michael has bump his head, He has no clue about mental health issues, He has a cold heart to people and when it come to minorities he is a bigot and as racist as they come. He and other like him should not be on the air I don't care what color they are if you mouth get to big for the mike then it time to go. You think you can tell people that live with children with this illness they are fakes? Hell no. The only people that don't have a clue about this illness are those who don't live with it. Michael think that he know what best for everyone This guy don't know jack about nothing. all he know how to do it to bad mouth people that hs done nothing to him, Oh Michael do you know there are white people with children that have the same illness. I guess not since you fix your mouth to only talk about minorities. Your moma should have told you to look both way before you cross the road.

Once again an idiot with a microphone has tested the range of common decency in this country. And the nieve' US public will flock to his show and play right into his hands. Guess what folks, the name of the game is ratings and you are giving him just what he, his network, and his sponsors want-- attention and lots of it.

What this man and others like him deserve is a good old fashioned SHUNNING.
Don't notice his crude remarks, don't publicize his sick show, don't acknowledge his disgusting presence on the planet. Ignore him and ignore his sponsors. Show him that our sick children, our races, our ethnic groups, and his disgusting opinions are not for public entertainment. We are becoming a nation of fools.

Check out

http://www.savagestupidity.com/boycott.html

Follow the money. I urge that a list of all advertisers on Savage's show be immediately contacted by the news media. They can't both benefit from sales to members of his stupid audience then distance themselves from the hatred which brought them there. Corporate sponsors aren't stupid about their demographic, insurance company AFLAC knew what they were doing, for example. Its working already!

Tempur-Pedic, Inc. abandons the Savage Nation, demands removal from site!
"We are not advertisers and therefore should not be subject to spending time answering your followers’ boycotting threats."

Source: email to this site, dated April 18th, 2003

as per their website, here are the advertisers on the Talk Radio Network which markets Mr. Weiner's Savage Nation (and yes, that is his name ...While in the South Pacific, he became fascinated with the 19th-century sailor Charles Savage, who was believed to be the man that first brought firearms to Fiji.) Call, write them, and the other shows that they advertise on -

ABC - Acura - American Express - Ancestry.com - Boca Javs - Bochringer - Bosch - Campbells - Citrix - Consolidated Resources - Direct Buy - Dish Network - Ebay Motors - Efax - General Motors - Gallo Wines - Hoover - Legal Zoom - Marshalls - Nautilus - Nivea - Outback Steak House - Prudential - Purina One - Simon & Schuster - Staples - Subway - Texaco Chevron - United First Financial - Volkswagon

Oh, and Weiner / Savage's son, Russell, is the founder of the company that produces the Rockstar energy drink, where his Weiner / Savages wife Janet serves as chief financial officer.

Mr. Savage and his ilk spread easy anwers, half truths, and misinformation so efficiently that it hinders the ability to get credible information to people who could use it. Mr Savage is apparently too lazy and arrogant to cultivate the discipline required to respect and listen to people who know more that he does about a given subject.
This is also true of many talk show hosts who are giving the public excuses to believe readliy available hogwash while ignoring the hard work of legitimate experts. The most famous of these dropped out of parent-financed college after only one year, and know gets paid $400 million to tell millions of people it's okay to ignore science and listen to his crackpot ideas.

Beyond the shocking hyperbole, what he did say that was so untrue? Autism is a spectral disorder which is difficult to classify from case to case.

"However, Mr. Savage has over 8 million listeners, many of whom rely on his show for reliable information."

It doesn't fare well for the country if listeners are actually going to his show for "reliable information". The audience should listen only because he says what they like to hear, but they should never take anything they heard with them back into the real world or they'll have a very twisted worldview.

While I agree that Savage's remarks are ridiculous, I am disturbed by Ms. Brink's comments about ADHD. While defending the legitimacy of one developmental disorder (autism), she backhand slaps another by suggesting that Savage may have confused the two. Both autism and ADHD are legitimate developmental disorders, described in the DSM-IV and recognized by physicians worldwide. ADHD, prima facie, is no less disabiling for those who suffer from it. The fact that there are helpful treatments does not make ADHD any less "significant". Is diabetes insignificant because there are helpful treatments available? What about cardiovascular disease or cancer?
One cannot pick and chose which spurious generalizations are socially acceptable. The reality is that, like many other developmental, neurologic, and psychologic conditions, one need not look far for evidence that both autism and ADHD are the result of deficits in chemical messengers and neuronal behavior in the human brain. Ms. Brink's remarks mirror the mainstream notion that ADHD is a made-up condition (by parents, by doctors, by its victims, take your pick of whipping posts). Individuals with autism and ADHD alike deserve understanding and respect. Ms. Brink's attempt to call attention to spoken injustices towards autism is undermined by her comments about ADHD. Only by facilitating a culture of respect and understanding towards ALL developmental disorders (as well as psychological, neurologic, and other "hidden" disorders), can one make true strides towards acceptance of any individual condition.

He makes a valid point that things like autism and ADHD are diagnosed way to often especially since there are no tests or definitive proof. Then the kids go on meds and if they were only minorly screwed up before they sure are after that.

Too bad this thread is full of waaahhhhh my poor self, my poor child, omg its so insensitive, blah blah blah. What ever happened to freedom of speech or agreeing to disagree? If you don't agree with him don't listen. FYI your life story doesn't mean its the same for everyone else. All these "you should come to my house" yeah you probably have an authentically autistic child. I have a couple friends who have kids diagnosed with ADHD that I think is suspect. Now they're on medication which will leave deposits of metals and other drugs in their body for life.

I listened to Savage (not his real name) exactly one time. I came to the conclusion that he is either an idiot or a charlatan or both, and further, that anyone who listened to him would necessarily be an idiot, too. As to this latest diatribe, I rest my case.

The more blogs you read the more truth you see in the "nation of whiners" comment. America is becoming a country void of intelligence and full of over compassionate, whiny babies that are becoming unable to accomplish anything.

Just like the airline with the poor mother and son kicked off the plane a month prior... typical bully(ies) to attack the weak and to allow for such discrimination to continue on... this guy's ignorance goes above and beyond. At the same time, my family doesn't want to give him the rewards of more publicity in response to his spouting off without clear knowledge. Who would hire such a person?

Free speech does not absolve a person of speaking responsibly. Dr. Savage's comments about autistic persons were more like the insane ravings of a lunatic than the considered opinion of an educated, thoughtful individual. I have an autistic grandson and he is anything but a brat. He does everything he can to try to please but still lacks the understanding and communication skills to succeed each and every time. Parents are going bankrupt to pay for their ASD kids' therapy -- why would they risk their financial futures if simple discipline was all that is needed?

I've heard the guys show and people are getting way too offended here. The drive home is so boring that sometimes it's entertaining to hear some guy blow up on the radio. At this rate of political correctness it will be just like on old movies of the future where everybody dresses in three different colors of the same outfit and lives in some brainwashed utopian society.

I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Savage suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder!!

How clever he must think he is to try and twist it around to make it seem like he was only speaking of the wrongly diagnosed.

Thankfully we are not ALL as hateful and sick as he is.

 


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