The left-leaning Media Matters for America website has a post about conservative radio host Michael Savage giving his cure for autism during a recent broadcast:
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. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' "
He also weighs in on high rates of asthma among minority populations, calling it a dodge families invented to get more welfare benefits.
Not that it makes much of a difference, but I’m wondering if Savage may have been mixing up an entirely inaccurate view of autism with an entirely inaccurate view of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Usually, ADHD is the disorder that I hear chalked up to “bad parenting,” not autism. But trying to figure out what he may have really meant is a fool’s errand.
It wouldn’t be worth pointing out this sort of talk in the blog, but Savage is a quite popular radio host, with a wide audience base. Though I don’t think most of his audience would come right out and say what he said, it does make me wonder how many people still think that children with disabilities are just naughty. And, how much do misconceptions about disabilities guide what happens in schools and public policy?
Hat tip to Charles Fox for bringing this to my attention through his blog.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.