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What Jerks!

Moi at Bloggg and everyone else who knows anything about autism is truly PO’ed with Michael Savage and his blithering blather.

Now, CNN’s two-thirds scale model of Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, has chimed in to prove he can be just as obnoxious and clueless.

The National Institutes of Health has a straight forward Autism Fact Sheet. If you read it, it becomes obvious that Mr. Savage has no idea what he is talking about, as usual. I realize that Savage and the troglodytes he hangs out with believe that the solution to all problems is the use of force, but the fact is, if you can talk to your child in an abusive manner, as Mr. Savage advocates, and the child responds, it isn’t autism, so sue your doctor, it’s the Republican way.

There isn’t really an epidemic of autism as much as a realization on the part of the medical community that what they have been trying to deal with piecemeal is not an extremely rare occurrence and it has a clinical name. There are more cases reported, because doctors now know what to call it and a few “celebrities” have autistic children and talk about them. It is another example of the media “discovering” something a lot of people have been dealing with for a very long time.

If you have an autistic child you need help and hope for the child’s future, not an idiot getting on the air and telling you that you don’t know how to raise a child.


1 Kryten42 { 07.23.08 at 1:02 am }

Hey Bryan… is it illegal to use hot cattle prods on Repugs in the USA? I know it isn’t immoral… Must be some old *Wild West* law that allows it, surely? John Wayne would find a way! 😀

Bah… I could say something nasty (though appropriate) about Rethugs and what should be done with them… but I’ll refrain at this time.

2 Michael { 07.23.08 at 8:00 am }

Not surprisingly, neither Savage nor Beck seems to have seen the 11 July 2008 issue of Science, which features autism on its cover and contains a major research article (E.M. Morrow et al., “Identifying autism loci and genes by tracing recent shared ancestry,” pp. 218-223) on the genetic basis for the disease.

Oops. Epic fail.

3 Fallenmonk { 07.23.08 at 8:17 am }

What I fail to understand is what joy or reward these gasbags get out of such poisoning of the discourse. I hate to believe that people so obviously twisted have such public and widely heard forums with which to spread their uninformed and stupid crap.
It really irks me that I have to be careful about how soon I turn on CNNHN in the morning so that I make sure that it is not Glenn Beck I see first thing.

4 Bryan { 07.23.08 at 12:58 pm }

We now have the imaging technology to confirm the diagnosis and know that it is the result of pathology, not a behavior problem.

Kryten, they don’t even have the excuse of politics – this is just cruel and base.

Michael, I doubt the ability of either one of them to spell “science”, much less read about it.

FM, I have to believe that they were somehow inconvenienced by someone with an autistic child, and turned to spite. Hate is all they know.

Parents dealing with autistic children have enough problems without putting up with this crap.

5 Badtux { 07.23.08 at 6:09 pm }

There actually is a problem with children being misdiagnosed as “autistic” when they really aren’t — but the problem is that some mentally retarded children are being misdiagnosed as “autistic” rather than “retarded” because “autistic” is a more trendy diagnosis and the parents don’t want a diagnosis of “retarded” on their child. Either diagnosis qualifies the child for the exact same services, and the treatment for each at the schools is exactly the same — behavioral modification programs adapted to the child’s own stimulus-response cycle (yes, autistic children respond to stimulae, just differently from normal children) to teach “life skills” and, for higher-performers, to teach basic academic skills — so schools are happy to oblige.

But to say that autism is a result of anything parents did or did not do… that has been discredited since the days of Bruno Bettelheim, who claimed autism occurred because of “frigid” mothers. Sigh. Ignorance. It’s impenetrable, isn’t it?

– Badtux the Well-educated Penguin

6 Michael { 07.23.08 at 7:49 pm }

Bryan: I think they can probably spell “science,” though obviously they don’t understand it very well. I’d love to see either one spell (and then define) words from the article I referenced like “consanguineous,” “autosomal,” “heterogeneity,” and “dysregulation.”

Badtux: No, not the result of parents’ actions or inactions. But the evidence presented in the Science piece is pretty compelling for at least a major genetic component. They’re finding sibling recurrence rates of ca. 15% (meaning that if one sibling is autistic, there’s at least a 15% probability that a younger sibling will be as well. That’s in comparison to incidences of 1 in 500 for autism narrowly defined, or 1 in 150 for the more broadly defined “autism spectrum disorder.”

The picture is complicated further by the fact that symptoms of several other mental and physical syndromes often accompany or mimic those of autism (or vice versa). Things like obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy, seizures, gastrointestinal dysfunctions, all have been associated with autism in some studies or some cases. And when you’re dealing with small children, that makes diagnosing something this insidious all the more difficult, since they can’t really tell you what’s going on inside their heads, and we still don’t know enough about how the brain develops (though there was an interesting article on that in the same issue of Science, or one of the others I was reading recently) to know what’s “normal” and what’s not.

7 Bryan { 07.23.08 at 8:39 pm }

In the Northeast there is a difference in the way children are handled, because low performing children tend to be easier to deal with than autistic. I encouraged people to use ARC workers whenever possible because while they were slower, you got a better job. They provided the outside clean up at two office parks I was at and they not only got everything, they separated it for recycling.

I dealt with older members of both groups when I was in law enforcement. The autistic were almost impossible to help, especially if you were in uniform. Generally we called the developmental center and kept them out of traffic until someone they knew arrived. We worried that they would meet an officer who didn’t know about the center and its clients, because it was a tragedy waiting to happen given the way cops react to the way the autistic act.

8 Bryan { 07.23.08 at 11:10 pm }

For some reason the spam filter grabbed that comment Michael, no idea why. I left the more complete version and deleted the dupe.

I know there has been a number of brain scans studies that show a difference. The problem is we don’t really know how to define normal when it comes to brains, and you can’t do a good mri on a baby.

More research is needed, and funding is being cut. It’s the Republican way.

9 Michael { 07.24.08 at 8:09 am }

Probably all the big words. That seems to be the latest attempt at getting by the Bayesian filter most spamcatchers use.

10 Bryan { 07.24.08 at 12:57 pm }

Whatever it was, I couldn’t see it. Usually it is the name of a drug embedded in another, common word that kicks the alarms.

Computers – who knows?

11 Badtux { 07.24.08 at 3:34 pm }

Bryan, you served before autism became “trendy”, and the autistic people you dealt with were the severely autistic. Things started changing when that awful Dustin Hoffman film came out back in 1988. Suddenly parents started preferring that their child be called “autistic” rather than “retarded”, and the diagnostic categories went all to hell at the school district level. I can assure you, however, that autistic children respond quite well to normal behavioral modification methods once you figure out what stimulae they like. One high-functioning kid that I taught, for example, you could get him in line by threatening to tell his mother if he didn’t behave — at that point he got a panicked look in his eyes and would say “No! No! I’ll be good! Don’t tell, she’ll take away my *Nintendo*!” Seems that autistic kids respond well to video games, because they’re a repetitive predictable stimulus that do not require social interaction, something that they’re just not capable of (their brains just don’t work that way).

And the ARC workers you dealt with? Generally those were Down’s Syndrome sufferers. Down’s Syndrome whacks the brain across the board, including the parts of the brain that would cause misbehavior or cause inattentiveness. I dealt with retarded kids whose brains had been damaged by a variety of other things — FAS, crack, etc. — the kids that the ARC center would not serve because they were “behavior problems” and believe me, those kids are every bit as much a handful to deal with as autistic kids.

As for the sibling study of autistic kids referenced by Michael, I’m not impressed. Unless you have twins adopted at birth by different parents and raised in entirely different environments, you cannot differentiate between observer bias, environmental factors and genetic factors via sibling studies. You just can’t. You have no controls and no ability to determine which factors cause what. As my favorite “Research Methods” professor was fond of quoting during grad school, “Correlation is not causation.” Unfortunately, shoddy research of that type gets funded all the time because universities require their professors to publish or perish, so they publish bullshit just to keep from being booted off the tenure track. There are plenty of other reasons to believe that genetics play a major role in autism, but that particular sibling study isn’t one of them.

– Badtux the Former Special Ed Teacher Penguin