An Open Letter to Michael Savage

Dear Mr. Savage:

I took my two children with autism and my ADD child out to dinner this evening for Kids’ Night at Ponderosa. We went in, paid our check, everyone got their food at the buffet, then we sat down, and surprisingly well-mannered, we ate.

Meanwhile, all around us there was pandemonium. One family (yes, complete with a father!) watched aimlessly as their neurotypical (that means non-autistic, sir) toddler crawled down from the table and wandered over to the salad bar, where he proceeded to try to take down the curtains along the side. The parents, both obese, sent their overweight daughter, about 13, after the boy, and she watched as he acted out, with a puzzled expression on her face: What am I supposed to do? she seemed to say as she looked back at her parents.

A normal child a couple of tables over was singing at the top of her lungs and wouldn’t stop when her mother tried to correct her. Several other small children an aisle over thought it would be delightful to toss their food onto the floor.

But there my “fraudulent”, “bratty” children were, eating their mac and cheese and blue Jello and filling out the word search puzzle, and even giving the server praise on the comment card.

Have my children ever behaved like those others? I’m sure they have. They’ve had their share of frustrations since we got the diagnoses some five years ago across the board. Speech therapy. Mobile therapy. Occupational therapy. Constant supervision in school. At one time 70 painful, invasive, family-destroying hours of therapy A WEEK my husband and I put our family through to help them get to the place where they are now, that we can go out to dinner and they can behave.

Oh, yes, they have a father. He works like hell to make sure his children know what to do. And a mother who does the same. We aren’t afraid to discipline them when they need it. On the other hand, we know they are struggling to deal with their disease, and we support them when we can. We try to make their lives as normal as we can. Because someday they will have to live in the world. They will have to know how to go to movies, go on an airplane, wait in a doctor’s office, attend classes…eat in a restaurant. So we take them to these places now.

You said during the July 16 show, “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.”

You said, “They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron, you’ll get nowhere in life. … Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.”

So. Now that we’ve shown you that our autistic, ADD children behave just fine, why don’t you turn that eagle eye on the neurotypical, so-called “normal” kiddies of the land, who feel free to act out any way they want while their parents (yes, even the fathers) just stand by? Because we know you’re not talking to us.

The Mountjoys

For those who haven’t followed this debacle, here’s a link. And here’s one too.

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17 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Michael Savage

  1. Hello Ms. Mountjoy,

    Quite right! Heaven knows there are plenty of NT children with Chronic Hickory Deficiency (insufficient parental attention of a certain kind). I went to school with some of them.

    As an Aspie (person with Asperger Syndrome, considered a less severe form of autism), I can tell you that there are certain things which Aspies are less likely to do, including cheat on their mates and commit serious crimes. We tend to be strict rule-followers.

    I do understand Mr. Savage’s concern about the incentives we give doctors and others when we encourage early screening for autism and don’t want to risk missing any young child who has it.

    At the same time, let’s look at Mr. Savage’s behavior:

    * He seems to have difficulty showing empathy with autistic and Aspie children and those who love them;

    * He has problems expressing his sentiments in ways which will cause people to support him, not work to get him fired;

    * He even expects people to address autistic and Aspie children in ways that many, if not most or all, will find offensive.

    Mr. Savage might just be an undiagnosed Aspie himself, and if so he is especially seriously affected. =|8-}/2

    Keep up the good work! Your children are very lucky, and I’m sure they know it.

    Cheers,

    Jeff Deutsch

    My Aspie son was also rushed onto ADD-type drugs, which of course didn’t work. So he’s off and the real ADD one is on, as is their dad, who swears by this daily dose of mind clarity. There’s a difference, I think, in a medically-credentialed person pointing out that some children may be over-diagnosed, and being a flat out caustic name-calling, racist BRAT. Oh wait. That was his word, wasn’t it. 🙂

  2. WOW. What a douchebag. People like that need moms like you man.

    What’s that line from Hook? “I think you need a mother very very badly….”

  3. I must commend you on your calm restraint–if Savage had savaged my kids the way he did kids w/ autism, I wouldda gone ballistic.

  4. Thanks for saying it like it is! I am appalled that people like Savage think of parents of children with autism as irresponsible cretins who don’t discipline their children. We know, more than others, how it is to try to want to get along with the world, even if it means bending over sometimes to accommodate NT people’s needs. Us, wimpy? Humbug!

    And if a smack to the head and liberal namecalling were all people needed to do for “children who are acting out,” may I suggest Savage stand in line for this one too. A good mind-clearing smack and some @#$%*& ought to do him some good.

  5. Good for you. Kudos for:
    #1 – Standing up for what you believe in.
    #2 – Being an active, involved parent who tries to raise your children to be positive members of society.
    #3 – Believing that Mr. Savage is an idiot. The more people believe this, and the fewer who listen to him, the better off our society will be. He’s just a guy on the radio. He has no power over you. Let him live in his own miserable, narrow world.

  6. Hello Babs,

    First off, I’m really glad your ADD son finally got the drugs he needs, and so did your husband.

    It certainly helps to have medical credentials to tell if a particular individual has been misdiagnosed.

    On the other hand, one doesn’t need to be a medical professional to talk about a potential public policy problem, just as one doesn’t need to be, say, a lawyer to wonder if too many innocent people* are being convicted of crimes.

    You mentioned that Mr. Savage is a racist. I’m surprised that the demonstrators and petitioners seem to have overlooked that thus far. Could you please point me to any racist rhetoric he has used?

    In any case, Mr. Savage’s language was absolutely unacceptable…not to mention inapplicable to your own family. “Caustic name-calling BRAT” only begins to describe him. You deserve a double salute for responding in the way you did.

    Cheers,

    Jeff Deutsch

    (*) Zero errors is not possible in any criminal justice system any more than in any medical system, which themselves both imply a society of imperfect humans.

  7. Oh and don’t forget all those “perks” we parents yet, like the disability pass to Disneyland – my friend pointed out that even that is harder to get lately since you have to “prove”your kid has autism. But, oh doesn’t that pass make all the rest worthwhile (NOT!!)

  8. I didn’t see (or hear?) the Michale Savage thing. I don’t even know who he is. I don’t keep up with current media. (And I didn’t feel like reading it after I clicked on your link.) However, it pisses me off.
    My kids have no special needs. And when we go out, I’m pretty sure most of those around me don’t have special needs, either. But unfortunately my kids are often the only ones that aren’t singing at the top of their lungs, pulling curtains down, putting handprints on windows and standing up on the chairs to do a performance.
    Does Mr. Savage thing that all the kids at a time like that have been labeled autistic?
    I hate going out mostly because so many other parents have no desire (or clue how) to control their children. I am often labeled as a “tough” or “hard” parent. But my kids are happy and interactive and know how to behave in public. I don’t apologize for that.
    As for special needs kids, I would think the parents of them would be MORE likely to work on acceptable behavior because you are more sensitive to things that could go wrong than many of the rest of us are.
    People can be idiots.

    It’s like internal radar that never shuts off–“what’s he going to do next?” And truthfully, you never know.

  9. I am saddened, but not shocked at Mr. Savage’s attitude, expressed over airwaves that reach into so many homes. All parents of children who have various differences encounter these Savages throughout our lives, in the well-meaning store clerk, the ostracizing neighbor, the people (sometimes those closest to us) who just don’t get it, some silently, some systemically through underfunded programs, some loudly in pretty much exactly the same terms Mr. Savage used… We hardly need for the message to be validated.

    Mr. Savage sees the world as neat and orderly–if only parents raised their children right. If only. Haven’t all of us who have seen our lives altered by a diagnosis wished that, too, wished that our love and guidance would be enough to cure our children of all that stuff that makes them out of place? The tragedy is that when life has that chaos-free appearance, it is because those who upset the order are forced out of society by various means: prisons, hospitals, other institutions, or death.

    Though Mr. Savage this time spoke only of children with autism, there are many others who may not act in the orderly fashion we hope for without an enormous amount of practice and guidance–and even then, still may not be able to cooperate. Maybe my child will squeal, howl, and laugh loudly. We work so hard to teach him other methods to communicate, but it is a slow process, one we have been attempting for about nine years now. Even if he is quiet, though maybe a wheelchair will look out of place in a nice restaurant. Maybe the ramp installed to make that restaurant accessible to the wheelchair-user will deter from the architectural beauty of a place. Maybe we are having a bad day. We all can try to fit into the world, with help that can only come with acceptance. The world can also change to be more accessible and accepting, too.

    In fact, who really knows if the other children in the restaurant you visited had challenges of their own? Thankfully, they bear no stamps or brands to tell us. Yes, we see they are inappropriately curious, singing loudly, obese, called upon to act as parents themselves… We do hope (wish) that parents would take responsibility for actions that upset everyone’s right to a peaceful meal out. It is hard to know from appearances how much effort has gone into raising a child, and what obstacles a family faces in doing so. How really does Mr. Savage know that a child has autism if no one tells him? He can no more diagnose than he can determine misdiagnosis. Your children, who do not run around restaurants, certainly never hit his radar screen.

    Thoughtfulness to others, and teaching this to our children, go a long way. It is hard work, but loving work–this is the part that Mr. Savage seems to miss. Calling kids names is not a way to teach them to behave. The only true order we can find in this world is love. Mr. Savage is an angry man, but perhaps he started as a man who fears the unpredictability of a world that he supposes will judge him as harshly as he judges others.

    Well said, my friend.

  10. Ah yes, I heard about this mess and wondered how long it would take for you to respond. I’ve long thought that Mr. Savage was an idiot, in the proper sense of the word meaning one who is ignorant. He always seems uniformed about the matters he speaks on.

    My younger sister has ADHD. Of course, she was diagnosed back in the mid 80’s where most of the behaviors where classified under hyperactivity and most treatments were unknown. A few years later, the recomended treatment was to practically drug the kids into a coma. Doctors even told my mother that my sister would probably never finish school and that she shouldn’t really hold out much hope. Thankfully, our tiny little school was using programs that were rather experimental and thought to be very radical at the time. We had excellent special education teachers. Our school integrated the special needs students into regular classes as much as possible. They figured out what her needs were and worked hard to help her. For example, it was found out that for tests, it worked best for her to go to her special education teacher and have the teacher read the test questions to her and explain the questions. My sister was never an Honor Roll student and yes, she had her behavioral issues, but she did graduate from high school. She also graduated from college with her paralegal degree. As a contrast to this story, we had a cousin who is the same age as me who also was diagnosed with ADHD. He went to a much larger school with much more money, but without any of the programs that were available at our school. He had constant problems, both with his behavioral issues and his academics. Many times his teachers just didn’t care. He was one of those students that was passed along because they didn’t want to deal with him. It’s partly why he finally graduated. He’s never gone to college.

    Proper treatment is a must, an absolute, for children and adults anywhere on the Autism spectrum and because no two cases are exactly the same, it’s a long and fustrating process for everyone involved. When people with as much media power as Mr. Savage use the platform they are given to re-enforce false ideas about medical conditions such as Autism, the process for proper treatment is set back even more and creates even more fustrations for the families affected. He needs to be corrected at every step. Intelligent, thinking people must not allow these falsehoods to spread.

    Don’t worry, Other Mom. Your munchkins are very well behaved compared to many many of the ones I deal with on a normal day at my job and you and He Who Makes The Best Grilled Cheese Known To Man are fantastic parents. You’re involved, you care, you’re responsible. You would never do like so many of my “customers” do and leave the kids in the children’s section of the bookstore for several hours and then go to the mall, or over to Hooters for wings and beer and breasts on display. I can also tell you from my perspective as an outside observer that I am amazed at the leaps and bounds that they have made. I know that it had been a few years since your recent visit and the last time the French Boy and I came out there, but the difference is astounding. The fact that all three of them are able to communicate effectivly amazed me when I think back to when the youngest two hardly said a word. I know that they will continue to improve if only by the sheer willpower that you and E put into the effort.

  11. I notice that my fraggles tend to be better in public than other kids too. This guy is such a loser. There is a special place in hell for people who speak like he does.

  12. This post needs to go into Mr. Savage’s (what an ironic name, come to think of it) inbox.

    To put it mildly, Mr. Savage is an asshat (excuse me, hat of ass). I don’t know how he sleeps at night. He must not take himself too seriously. Seems like we shouldn’t either.

    Margaret

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