Friday, July 25, 2008

Serving the Autistic Community

This photo came from the web site of the Daily Sparks Tribune.

Yesterday, I got an email from my son with a link to the Daily Sparks Tribune. When I shared it with my writer’s group, one of the ladies said that my son had done a service for all the people who deal daily with Autism. I had been wondering what to write about in today’s service blog, and bingo, there it was.

This is what happened:

Mike Savage, a radio personality, dubbed a ‘shock jock’ by the local newspaper, in a piece he was doing about autism, apparently said that doctors were overdiagnosing autism and that it was becoming a ‘racket’. According to the Daily Sparks Tribune, “In his broadcast, Savage called autistic children “brats” and that the condition is the “illness du jour.” He said autism is the result of bad parenting. Click
here to read the whole article.

When news of what Mike Savage had said on the radio hit the community of people who deal daily with autism, they mobilized. The National Autism Association demanded an apology, and Lori McIlwain, a NAA board member, posted this statement: “Many children with autism experience tremendous physical pain from underlying pathologies, which accounts for the screaming this person callously dismisses. To have an uneducated opinion about autism is perfectly within one’s right, but to earn a living by shock-value exploitation of children’s suffering, while suggesting they should be called ‘idiots,’ is disgraceful.” Her statement can be found at

As for my son, he didn’t have access to the airwaves to reply, but he had access to airspace. He has a banner towing business, and he had a banner put together and was up towing it that afternoon. His reference to Mike Savage as an idiot stems from Mike’s apparent reference to autistic children as idiots, as mentioned by Ms. McIlwain, above. On his web site at Mr. Savage says that his comments about autism were meant to ‘boldly’ awaken people to the fact that too many people are being labeled as autistic.

I don’t know what they do in other places, but my grandson’s diagnosis was very slowly, methodically and carefully arrived at. Too slowly, methodically and carefully to suit me. I was saying, “Hello?? It’s as plain as day! I’ve watched the Sixty Minutes Segment on Autism. I know what the symptoms are. Let’s get a diagnosis and get started helping this boy and this family.” But, all things were done in order, with a neurologist and a behavioral psychologist having to agree before a diagnosis would be issued.

In a way, Mr. Savage may have done a service to the autism community, because, by posing, however inelegantly, the question about what autism is and how a diagnosis is arrived at, he has allowed those who have legitimate information to educate the public.

Return to the Neighborhood

1 comment:

Candace E. Salima said...

Liz, there's a typo on your title. Please correct that and then delete this comment when you're done.