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“Aspergers in Grey’s Anatomy: Rainman Returns”

Fellow blogger, Kari, wrote a post at Silicon Valley Moms Blog about the hit ABC show, Grey’s Anatomy and their extremely insulting portrayal of Aspergers Syndrome.

Kari very eloquently expressed her feelings about this new, and, thankfully, temporary character. Something I am unable to do at this moment in time.  The reason I am unable to eloquently express my feelings is because I am so incredibly ticked off right now, I can’t even think straight.

Here’s an excerpt from her post.

I had high hopes for Mary McDonnell’s three-episode-arc character Dr. Virginia Dixon on Grey’s Anatomy. I thought, “It will be great to see someone a little quirky take on the already strange social scene at Seattle Grace.” Unfortunately, when the episode aired, I was disappointed. Instead of a brilliant cardiac surgeon who happens to have Aspergers, Dr. Dixon is a very impaired Rainman-like stereotype of autism.

While the words I write about autism are read by a couple hundred people, and the words other parents may write about similar topics might be read by a few thousand people, Grey’s Anatomy has viewers in the millions.

Should you decide to venture online to witness ABC’s disparaging view of autism, bear in mind one thing…

Dr. Dixon is not autism, and autism is not Dr. Dixon!

Dr. Virginia Dixon reinforces the stereotype of autism that so many of us are trying to get away from.  We want the public perception of autistic spectrum disorders to become more realistic.

I couldn’t agree with you more, Kari!

Down Under’s Autism Misdiagnosis Dilemma.

Something’s amiss down under.

One news report spoke of over-diagnosis, now another speaks of misdiagnosis.

What is going on?

According to ABC Local Radio,

Experts say diagnosis of the condition in Australia is patchy, because doctors here don’t apply the internationally accepted diagnostic criteria. Some patients are diagnosed as autistic when they don’t have the disorder, others with all the symptoms are turned away.

Patchy is an understatement (no pun intended).

What is to become of those children who are living with autism and were turned away?

What is to become of those children who are not living with autism and are receiving the benefits?

What an awful mess!

Politicians are blaming the doctors, and I’m sure the doctors are feigning ignorance.

It is shameful to think that there could actually be doctors out there who are merely diagnosing children simply because there may be more money in it for them.

Why aren’t Australia’s pediatricians following the internationally accepted classification system?

Brisbane paediatrician Dr Neil Wigg describes the process of diagnosing a child.

If I am suspicious that a child might have autism spectrum disorder, I work with clinical psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, a range of other people and when we then sit down and we do some quite specific assessments of children in order to be quite confident in the diagnosis.

Now that’s a lengthy and expensive process and that process is not available to all paediatricians and it’s certainly not available to all children in Queensland.

The new Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative, a $190M package, will prevent access to early intervention treatments and services unless children have been properly diagnosed.

Hopefully, this initiative will make the diagnosis process more accessible and affordable to all pediatricians since money seems to be the obvious issue here.

Oklahoma… Is it Failing its Children with Autism?

My son is one of the fortunate ones.

The Oklahoma Health Authority (aka SoonerCare) covers his twice weekly speech and occupational therapy sessions.  Who knows, they may even cover a third speech session.  We’ll see because it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Like I said, he’s one of the fortunate ones. But things aren’t going so well for other Oklahoman children who are also on the spectrum.

The Developmental Disabilities Division of our state’s Department of Human Services is about to let a pilot program expire “sooner than expected” due to the lack of behavioral specialists.

What does this mean exactly?

The program had offered a budget of $12,360 to spend on services.  As for the 30 families who were selected to participate?  They will be left, once again, to fend for themselves.

Michael McNutt of The Oklahoman reports,

Oklahoma lacks enough therapists and behavioral specialists to take care of the state’s autistic children, according to the preliminary findings of a pilot program.

“What we discovered was there are so few providers of those services to these families that the spending on the behavior therapies was pretty small,” said Jim Nicholson, director of the developmental disabilities division of the state Department of Human Services. “There’s a lack of service providers that had that kind of specialty training.

It’s sad to think that there doesn’t seem to be enough incentive (please read as “Ka-ching!” or “mucho dinero” or “dolla’, dolla’ bills, y’all”, or “cheddar”) to get the “skilled” practitioners to care for our children.

I guess for some folks, time is money, and they apparently don’t want to “spend” any more of it on our kids.

Someone needs to explain this to parents like Deborah Decker who stated,

“It just opened up a lot of avenues that we wouldn’t have had otherwise because it’s just so expensive,” said Decker, who developed a plan for her 6-year-old autistic son. “It was nice just to have that money to really do some intensive treatment with him.”

Someone needs to explain this to her son and others like him who were relying on this program to do more than it did.

Someone needs to explain this to the children who will continue to “fall behind” due to the lack of state-provided services.

Someone needs to explains this…

Explaining abuse to an autistic child.

The circus is in town this weekend, and my husband really wanted to take our son.

While fetchin’ dinner, he told me he saw a group of circus protestors, hanging out across the street of the BOK Center.

He told me they were holding signs that spoke of animal abuse…

If I hadn’t have transitioned to a holistic lifestyle, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of my PC right now, blogging about animal abuse and circuses.

But I did.

And here I am.

Fired up.

How do I explain this to my son?

He doesn’t always grasp the other things I try to explain to him.  But abuse, in all its forms, is something I am ill-prepared for.

How do I look into those amazingly big, brown eyes, and tell him that I’ll never take him to the circus?

That it will be a cold day in hotsville before I pay to see abused animals perform for my or his delight?

That the elephant isn’t trumpeting because she’s happy… she’s trumpeting because she’s been wounded by a bullhook meant to make her “heel” and she’s in pain?

That the lion isn’t wet from water… he’s drenched in sweat from being left in an unventilated boxcar?

That these aren’t ‘zoo’ animals who are loved… they’re animals, illegally captured in the wild, who have been abused from the moment they were stripped of their freedom?

It’s hard enough explaining abuse to a neuro-typical child… it’s even harder when your child is autistic, and cognition isn’t currently one of my son’s strengths.

So, tell me.

PLEASE.

How do I explain this to him?

(this video contains graphic content.  It is not meant for the weak.)

“Abuse is in the air… everywhere I look around!”

Come on, everyone. Won’t cha sing along with me???  I’m sure John Paul Young won’t mind if we change a word of the 70s hit, Love is in the air, will he?

Imagine this if you will…

  • You’re autistic.
  • You’ve been placed on a bus… heading off to school.
  • Your parents, who love you dearly, leave you in the loving care of your bus driver and bus monitor.
  • They, in turn, take that trust… and reject it.
  • They abandon you on a bus… for several hours.

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been confirmed.  The world has truly gone mad, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this isn’t not an isolated case!

Seems like October is the month where we’ll have to stop thinking about Halloween and start thinking about keeping our children out of school for fear that they’ll be tagged for what seems to be an annual event for abusing our children.

2007

2008

Is this going to be the norm when we leave our children in their care?

Is this what’s become of all the rallying we’ve done for better treatment of our children?

Is this what we have to look forward to?

Denis Leary… doesn’t hate autism???

The people who are criticizing the “Autism Schmautism” chapter in my new book “Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid” clearly have not read it.

Or if they have, they missed the sections I thought made my feelings about autism very clear: that I not only support the current rational approaches to the diagnoses and treatment of real autism but have witnessed it firsthand while watching very dear old friends raise a functioning autistic child.

Okay, Denis.  You got me.  I didn’t read your book.  I saw the comment, put on my armor, and was prepared to battle… major battle!

Do I owe you an apology?  I’ll concede.  I do.  I should have done what I normally do, and that’s to get the facts BEFORE I react.

But you see, I wasn’t only reacting for myself.  I was reacting for my son who does not and would not understand that those few lines were “teasers” to something “meaningful”.

Does this mean that I will go out and buy your book?  Uh, nope!  Last time I checked, none of my tattoos were of the word, “stupid”.  Plus, I’m not much for books that call folks out, but I wish you the best in recovering your losses.

And as you can see, we (the autism community) don’t hold back when it comes to our children.  You only received a few letters/emails… this time.

Next time, you just might have hate mail coming to you by the truck loads.

You play nice, and we’ll do the same!

Again… my apologies and next time, don’t take any cheap shots at our children for publicity’s sake.  It’s not only cheap… it’s downright tacky.

P.S.  Looking forward to seeing your response to the comments posted on Age of Autism yesterday.  I got quite the giggle..  You really pissed off a lot of people, DL.  Hmmm… ever notice how your initials stand for something else?  Down low, perhaps?  Looks like that’s what you should have done with your autism comments… kept them on the DL.

Goodness.  Look at me about to get all militant again just when I said I was sorry.  My bad… or is it?

UPDATE (10/17/2008): Read your interview with Vanity Fair, DL!

I will refrain from telling you where you can go, how you can get there, and where you can stick your book… because I’m better than that!!!

You’ve taken a cheap shot at our kids and, you have the gall to call the supporters of the book, Obama Nation, “assholes”?!?!?

Do you really want to rumble with us????

Are you really that stupid????

Your move!

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