On his radio show in 2008, host Michael Savage, angered the autistic community, claiming that autism was a fraud and overindulgent parents just needed to tell their children to “cut out the act.” In his book, “America, Why We Suck”, actor Denis Leary included a chapter entitled, “Autism Shmautism” and claimed that parents were seeking a diagnosis because they couldn’t accept that their kids were lazy or stupid, or both.
Although Leary stated that the quote was misinterpreted, bloggers and autism advocates said the apology, simply, wasn't enough.
Of course, this is controversy for the sake of ratings and book sales. These two men are hardly qualified to speak on this subject.
Unfortunately, having a large following and a famous face can make you seem like an expert.
Asperger’s syndrome, which is a mild form of autism, is seen by some as an excuse for rude, antisocial and sometimes psychotic behavior.
The writers of the television show, “Glee” picked up on this stereotype and created a character who blames her “self-diagnosed Asperger’s” for her rude behavior.
Contributing to the controversy is the fact that the latest edition of the standard guide for American psychiatrists, the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," has removed Asperger’s syndrome as a diagnosis, lumping the condition in with all other types of autism.
This does not mean that Asperger's syndrome has disappeared, just that those formerly diagnosed will now be diagnosed as autistic.
Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger began studying autism in the early 1900s. Both were qualified physicians, whose work is still relevant today.
They worked with facts and research, not personal opinion.
Asperger’s syndrome and autism still exist. Savage and Leary have not provided the scientific community with their research and findings, so the opinions of more qualified doctors and psychologists will have to stand.
Perhaps it is not the parents of autistic children and children and adults with Asperger’s that are using it as an excuse for bad behavior.
Instead, could it be the self-proclaimed “experts” who write books and have talk shows that claim autism doesn’t exist because it interferes with their “right” to be self-righteous and judgmental?
Perhaps one day, science will find a cure for what ails them.