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Michael Savage’s outdated ideas about Autism July 28, 2008

Posted by joshuachayne in Culture, media, Uncategorized.
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Conservative talk show host Michael Savage made news again recently with controversial remarks about autistic children being “brats” who just need a father to tell them to be a man and stop acting socially awkward. Before advances in genetics and neuroscience, unfortunately some doctors did blame social causes. Mothers were told that their children were autistic because they did not show them enough love when they were infants. These so called refrigerator mothers were made to blame themselves for their child’s condition. Of course through time studies have shown that there is no relationship between a mother’s affection and autism.

Autism is now generally considered a spectrum disorder with varying degrees between mild and severe. Most autistic individuals have some degree of sensory disorders. Some individuals may have exaggerated senses while others may have dulled senses. Some individuals may only be able to process input from one sense at a time. Many individuals with autism have problems with “theory of mind” in that they may not be able to generalize about what others think and feel or pick up on social cues. Many individuals with autism will also develop social anxiety disorder. Some autistics such as those with aspergers may have savant skills.

Michael Savage’s views are dangerous because they could be used to justify mistreating individuals with autism or lead parents to opt out of treatments for their children with autism. It is important for families, schools, and society at large to understand that due to variation in development and brain structures and chemistry, there are people who experience reality and social reality much differently than many of us do. We must accept and accommodate these differences. We must not blame the victim or exclude people.

Michael Savage has also been criticized in the past for homophobia. He has told a gay caller to get aids and die and he has said that gays “rape the minds” of children simply for being seen holding hands in public.

The most shocking aspect concerning Michael Weiner aka Michael Savage is that he has advanced degrees in sociology and anthropology. Its hard for me to believe that he actually believes some of the things he says. I’m inclined to believe that, like many of the other conservatives, he probably realizes that he can cash in on the niche market of fear and hate mongering.

Why is it that compassion seems to escape many of the popular conservatives in the media? Do they merely engage in hate and fear mongering for profit? Why do they seem to advocate for bullying, prejudice, and discrimination for anyone that is different from themselves?