Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Michael Savage - ...autistic children..."brats"

For those of you out there that have not heard the news media yet about the rude and insane comments from radio broadcaster, Michael Savage, well...here is the story.

Quoting Savage exactly...

"I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot."

So yea. I am sure there was more to his radio broadcast from that day, but this quote is all that is remembered. When I heard about this my first reaction was "holy cow, I can not believe that someone would be so insensitive and say such a thing". But the more I though about it the more I was reminded of the kind of world we live in. The "all about ME" world where the only thing people care about is themselves. That is exactly the reason for Savage's comments. He doesn't want or like being bothered with having to tolerate the "behaviors" of autistic children around him. It is also obvious by his comment that he has no experience or even any idea why autistic children have the behaviors that they do. If he did he would not have even thought what he said, much less say it on national radio.

Anyways...enough of my thoughts and reactions...for now. There have been tons of responses to all of this. Here is one that I want to share...

Dear Mr. Savage,
My name is Shannon Johnson and I am the proud parent of a 13 year old son with autism.

If you met my son, you would probably think that he was very funny, as he would not hesitate to smile and call you weird, which is his best attempt at a compliment. He would find you intriguing because you have facial hair and he would want to touch it with his sticky fingers that usually smell like his last meal. He seems taller than he actually is because he walks on his toes. It makes it hard for him to wear shoes, but he will tolerate flip-flops in the summer and slip on shoes in the winter, as long as he can take them off as soon as he gets in the car or enters the house. Although he eats like a horse and I literally have to keep a lock on my refrigerator door, he is skinny and underweight, probably in part because of his severe digestive issues. Without a special diet of gluten-free and dairy-free foods, and a multitude of supplements, enzymes and medications, he wouldn’t even digest a fraction of the food that passes his lips. For the majority of his life, he has experienced more restrictions, seen more physicians, been poked more with needles and been tested more by psychologists than most adults can ever imagine. Through it all, he has been braver and more courageous than anyone I have ever met.

Naturally, it disappoints me to hear someone of your intelligence and of your influence describe children with autism as “brats”. I can only assume that you are referring to the fact that some children with autism are known to have behavioral meltdowns or tantrums.

Honestly, my son is one of those kids. If you saw him in public having a meltdown, you would probably deduct that he was screaming because he couldn’t have a new toy or another ice cream cone; that he was using his lungs to manipulate his parents into giving into his selfish requests. However, you would be completely wrong. Instead, he might simply be reacting to the fact that the sights and smells, the sounds and colors in the mall, or at the grocery store, have overwhelmed his already over-stimulated sensory system and he needs to retreat to the safety of the car right away. In this heightened moment, his anxiety would be revved up and he would lose his ability to verbally communicate his needs. He would then rely on his tears to inform me or his father that his system had had all that it could take, no matter what goodie we might offer, no matter what reward lay in our cart….And then, once he was safe away from the sensory assault, he might ask, as he has in the past, “What can we do next time so that it’s not so loud in the store?”……Certainly, we have even sat in the rain to eat a meal outside when the restaurant lights were too bright or the music inside too loud for our very sensitive boy.

If you stood outside my son’s door sometime, Mr. Savage, as I invite you to do if you are ever in my neighborhood, you might hear my son ask God in heaven to “please make me get better soon.” Not really the words of a “brat”, Mr. Savage…Only a very affected child who doesn’t feel good most of the time, and would do just about anything to just be like everyone else.

Sincerely-Shannon Johnson

(Taken from foggyrock.com:
http://www.foggyrock.com/MyPage/wynnsmom/Composition/1830#showcomp )

Here is another response that I found. This was a response to Shannon's post from here: http://adventuresinautism.blogspot.com/2008/07/shannon-responds-to-michael-savage-with.html

"How sad that autism families have to deal with fighting with doctors who have their own agenda, school officials who don't care and are overwhelmed, neighbors who don't get it, government officials who don't want to offer services, unsolicited parenting advice from every granny in the supermarket, idiots on airplanes, in restraunts, and elsewhere...and now, Michael Savage is inspiring a whole new slew of people to make life even harder. (Not to mention the actual struggles of dealing with the autism and therapies, etc.)"

And now from me....not to just Mr. Savage but anyone out there that feels the same..."until you live in the shoes of the parents/caregiver that walk the fragile roads each day of raising a child with autism, you have no place to judge us or our children. You are ignorant and have NO idea what you are talking about. "

You can read more of the news stories on this here:



1 comment:

Jen said...

I saw this news story on CNN and it made me sick! I can't believe how ignorant and down right ugly some people are!! You are right it is time to for the world to stand up for these precious children!! I am so proud of you for all you do!! You are AWESOME!!