An Open Letter to Michael Savage, Autism Expert

Today, I was given a link to conservative talk show host Michael
Savage's recent broadcast about Autism and what he called it's over
diagnosis. Less than twenty seconds in and Mr. Savage's ignorance has
me seething.

Mr. Savage,

I
appreciate anyone who wants to do something to further the cause of
autism research and understanding. You sir, have done neither. I have a
piece of advice for you: stick to what you know before running off your
mouth.

Last week, you claimed that 99% of those out there
diagnosed with autism are 'fakers'. (similarly, you say that if you
can't SEE the disability when someone has a handicapped placard, they
also are fakers. That's a battle for another day).

You ask why
the definition of autism has been changed to include autism spectrum
disorders. It is because research has been done and those who were
classified as 'odd' or 'different' even ten years ago now can receive
treatment to better help them understand and assimilate into society.
That's the hope, anyway.

The medical community is overdiagnosing
autism? Let me give you another situation-would you say that doctors
are overdiagnosing cancer? I seriously doubt it, but the tools used to
discover both have improved over the last 50, 20, even 10 years. Many
cancers were not diagnosed until they were stage 4 and the patient was
too far gone to benefit from chemotherapy or radiation. Take a look at
cancer survival rates if you don't believe this.

My son is a
faker, and his doctors have overdiagnosed him. So you say. Have you met
him? Have you spent more than ten minutes with ANYONE diagnosed on the
autism spectrum before you made such a bold pronouncement?

Tell
you what, I've got a great idea. How about you come to my house and
spend a week with us. No, wait a minute, let's make it two weeks. The
first week, you can spend with my son, Gameboy, without benefit of any
medication that in your expert option has been over prescribed. Then
the second, he'll resume his medications.

I'll clue you in on what your days will be like, just so you're not coming into this completely blind:

You
will awaken way too early to find that Gameboy has raided the pantry or
fridge and either eaten a whole bag of hamburger buns, a half bag of
cereal, a bag of corn chips or most of a bag of bread. As a result, we
don't have these items in our house very often-sucks to try to make
sandwiches or burgers.

Next, you'll fight him to brush his
teeth, wash his face, change into clean clothes and take his
medication. Oh right, the first week, you won't have that part. Gameboy
will start his first round of badgering you to let him play games-that
is, if he hasn't already snuck the games into his room and hidden under
the bed.

Next, he'll complain that he's starving. Never mind the
fact that he ate 6 portions of cereal, or 8 buns or something else that
isn't suitable. He expects you to make all his meals (oh yeah, previous
experience as a short order cook might help here.)

Any time
you tell this child "no", he'll whine loudly, state "But I wanted" or
"NOOOOOOOOO" or "You said I could..." even when you didn't. No amount
of talking rationally helps here, he'll still whine and complain until
you scream loudly that he's going to lose more game time or tell him
that he has to go to his room.

He's only this way because we're
so permissive, right? Tell that to my neighbors who hear him crying all
day long, and me or my husband yelling. We believe in corporal
punishment, so that argument won't work, either.

Let's move to
lunch. Don't forget his medication. Oh, and figure out something he'll
eat. Autism spectrum children are known for their extremely picky
eating. We're lucky, Gameboy will eat a larger variety of foods than
most, but still not a lot. Factor in here that many ASD kids also have
food dye allergies and it makes meal prep interesting if you aren't a
diligent label reader. Luckily, what's in our pantry is 99% appropriate
for Gameboy.

By this time, you will have probably begun to
notice how much he talks about games. All. Day. Long. Everything
pertains to games. You'd probably get along great, you both monologue
on something nonstop, frequently things you known nothing about.
Telling him to knock it off doesn't help. This is where his OCD over
rides everything else. He has to finish saying what he's started to say
and will drive you crazy. Oh wait, he's a faker, so I guess it won't
bother you much, right?

We're still in summer break here, so at
this point, you might want to get him involved in an activity. A swim?
A ride on a bike? Oh, yeah, there's a related diagnosis, Dysgraphia.
See, many ASD children have gross and fine motor skill issues.

At
12, his handwriting is laborious and slow. He doesn't have the
coordination to swim or ride a bike. His still has training wheels and
I can't tell you the last time he even tried to ride it. Besides, he'll
bug you for the video games-even when he's been on restriction from
them for two weeks and doesn't get them back for another.

Why's
that? Because his disorder prevents him from having any impulse
control. He'll do something, knowing full well he'll get punished
because HE CAN'T STOP HIMSELF FROM DOING IT. Yeah, I know, I'm a lousy
parent and I don't know how to set boundaries. That's why I'm inviting
you here for two weeks, because you are the expert.

Somehow,
you'll get through dinner. Should be easy, right? It's the calm before
the scream and cry fest that is bedtime. I'll tell you, it's the same
song and dance every night, so you'll hear such great nuggets of joy as

"I'm not ready for bed"
"I'm not tired"
"But I don't want to"
"I HATE BEDTIME"
At
that, if you do succeed in getting him into bed and the lights out,
your job won't be done. He'll sneak into the bathroom with a book until
you send him back to bed. He may snag a handheld game and hide under
his bed with it. He may try to sneak out of his room to get other
things to bring in until 3:00 or 4:00 am . That's because, he like all
those other so called fakers, has a sleep issue, too. He's on two
medications for that, but they mean he may get six hours of sleep
instead of four.

You'll see that it's not as simple as saying we
parents are too permissive, that his psychiatrists are just diagnosing
this disorder so that we can get federal funds. Do you know how much a
month SSDI we get, with our household combined income last year of
under $30,000? Take a guess, Mr. Savage, since you're such an expert.

Are
you ready for this? $105.00. Yes, that decimal is in the right place.
My husband had been unemployed, and Gameboy's check went from $79.00 to
that huge sum. I'm funding my Hawaiian vacation with that kind of
moolah, wouldn't you say? That didn't even cover his medication copays.

Then
there's the eight months that we either had no insurance or insurance
that didn't cover prescriptions. We spent $1200 to $1300 a month on
those medications. Medications that you don't think are needed, because
he's faking and doesn't need them. Milking the government, you say?
Heck, the subsequent financial tailspin resulted in my foreclosure-I
didn't ask the government to bail me out of that, thanks.

We're
not even going to get into the fact that at 12, he's aged out of
daycare programs, but he's got the emotional maturity of a 3 year old,
so it's not good to leave him alone for long. His father and I haven't
enjoyed many of the luxuries that most parents do-we don't think the
average babysitter can handle him. Heck, some days, I don't think even
I can. I sometimes think that maybe he should be hospitalized so that
he doesn't become a danger to himself because of that lack of impulse
control. Then again, that would be milking to government, too, wouldn't
it?

So, Mr. Savage, we're ready for you. I'll put the boys bunk
beds back together so that you can have your own room while you're
here. You won't be needing a hotel room because parenting (even for two
weeks) is a 24 hour job. I'd suggest you rest up before getting here,
because you won't get any once you're here and doing a better job and
dealing with my son and exposing his fakery.

Since you're such
an expert and want to HELP children legitimately disabled by Autism,
this is the perfect opportunity for you to put your money where your
mouth is. You know so much about ASD, it'd be a joy to gain your
insights and wisdom on a personal level. Perhaps you can even do a
remote from our house while you're here, kind of an "In the Trenches
Look at a Child Faking their Autism"? Wouldn't that help your ratings?

Mr.
Savage, I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Just give me a little
heads up of when you'll be here, I do need to carve out some time to
get the room ready for you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Suzanne Sez 

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